Friday

20th Apr 2018

Focus

Brussels silent as Google tries to avoid record EU fine

  • Google faces a near €4bn fine if found guilty of breaching EU competition rules. (Photo: tpholland)

The European Commission is refusing to be drawn on steps made by Internet search-engine Google to avoid an EU fine of up to €3.8 billion for breaching EU competition rules.

Google issued a statement on Monday (2 July) claiming that it had made proposals to the commission in a letter from executive chairman Eric Schmidt to EU Competition chief Joaquin Almunia.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Almunia had given Google a July deadline to propose reforms to its business practices to avoid full disciplinary sanctions for abusing its 94 percent market share in Europe.

Under EU competition rules, sanctions could include a potential fine of up to 10 percent of Google’s annual turnover of just under €40 billion, comfortably higher than the €1.6 billion fine levied on rival software giant Microsoft.

Google spokesman Al Verney said that the firm, which is also under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission for allegations of anti-competitive practices, had "made a proposal to address the four areas the European Commission described as potential concerns.”

The most controversial issue at stake surrounds charges that Google is guilty of manipulating search engine results to give unfair preference for its own products.

A commission spokesman confirmed it had received a letter from Google and that anti-trust officials would now analyse the response.

However, details of the letter have not been disclosed and the commission is understood to be in no hurry to take a decision.

The lobby group ICOMP, which represents a number of rival software companies including Microsoft, offered qualified support for the news.

ICOMP counsel, David Wood, said that the move was “a hugely significant acknowledgement by Google of their market dominance and recognition of illegal anti-competitive behaviour.”

However, the group, which has long been critical of Google's dominance of the search-engine market, argued that it was vital to ensure that “the remedies offered by Google end the discrimination and manipulation of search results that have had the effect of making the open Internet a closed Google Internet."

It concluded that Google's proposed reforms required "vigorous scrutiny not only by the commission but also by third parties."

Meanwhile, for her part, Monique Goyens, director general of the pan-European consumer organisation BEUC, released a statement of Tuesday commenting that partial or biased query results which placed Google products above others was "a cause for considerable concern" for consumers.

She called on the commission to ensure that “the offered remedies put an end to manipulated search results."

Commission delivers anti-trust ultimatum to Google

The European Commission has given Google “a matter of weeks” to propose a “remedies package” in order to avoid formal legal proceedings and possible fines over allegations that the online search giant is abusing its dominant market position.

EU demands more from Google over search results

Search-engine Google must offer more concessions to show that it does not restrict access to websites and services of its rivals, according to the EU's competition boss.

Google on brink of EU settlement

Google's own services will be flagged up in internet searches for the sake of transparency, as part of an emerging deal with EU regulators.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  2. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  3. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  4. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  5. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  6. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  7. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  8. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties