Google submits EU antitrust remedy proposals just before deadline

The search giant has submitted proposals that, if agreed upon by European antitrust regulators, change how it conducts business while avoiding hefty fines.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Google has submitted new proposals to how it will conduct its search business amid an ongoing, and seemingly never-ending European antitrust probe.

In the proposals--not yet available to the public--Google will have set out under which terms it is willing to settle with the European Commission, which is investigating the company for allegedly anti-competitive behavior in the region.

The deadline for submitting the proposals was 12 midnight today (Brussels time), which Google reportedly sent in with moments to spare.

Google, which has around 90 percent of the search market share in Europe, is accused of flouting a number of strict competition laws on the continent, not limited to scraping information from other firms' services to shutting out competing advertising networks.

In order to evade massive fines, Google is attempting to settle. In doing so, the company will not have to admit wrongdoing.

The proposals are likely on the most part similar to the terms in which the search giant settled with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with a few differences.

One likely difference is how Google labels its own branded advertisements--something European antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia hinted at earlier this month. The search giant could also be barred from giving preferential treatment to its own services over rival products and services.

But if Google manages to settle under the newer Article 9 of the European antitrust rules, Google could be forced to change how it acts without imposing fines or finding that the company fell afoul of or actively broke competition laws. That said, if Google breaks any commitments it agrees upon with the commission, there will there be fines--and they will be substantial.

Comparatively, the US FTC gave Google a slap on the wrist without a financial penalty. Granted, the decision to affect Google's search business may ultimately--albeit for the sake of fair competition-- harm Google's revenues in the long term.

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