Sunday

27th May 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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Visual Data

EU budget: Biggest cuts and increases

The European Parliament accused the EU Commission of not providing clear figures for a comparison of the proposed and the current EU budgets. We take a look at the main differences.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach