Monday

6th Apr 2020

Google to avoid record anti-trust fine as it closes on EU deal

Search-engine Google is set to avoid fines worth up to $4 billion after the European Commission's competition boss Joaquin Almunia publicly acknowledged that a deal is close.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday (25 July), Commissioner Almunia said that the representatives of the search-engine had offered "sufficient explanations for us to proceed with technical meetings to explore the possibility of a settlement under Article 9."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The EU Commission and Google are on the brink of agreement. (Photo: EUobserver)

Article 9 refers to the so-called "commitment decision" procedure, introduced into European competition law in 2003, which gives the Commission the option to deal with competition cases through formal settlements rather than full infringement proceedings.

Google is anxious to reach a settlement to avoid the costs of a formal court case and possible multi-million euro fine.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Vieuws TV on Tuesday (24 July), Almunia indicated that a deal was close, commenting that "we have reached a good degree of understanding."

However, he added that Google, which is also under investigation in South Korea, India and by the US Federal Trade Commission - all on charges of using anti-competitive practices - could still face further investigation into the company's Android phone and tablet computers.

Both Google and the EU executive have declined to release information on the precise terms of the agreement, but they are understood to include concessions on how Google runs its search results on desktop and mobile services.

After a two year investigation into Google's practices, Almunia had given the firm a July deadline to propose reforms to its business practices to avoid full disciplinary sanctions for abusing its 95 percent market share in Europe.

In a letter sent to the Commission earlier this month, Google addressed the four areas of concern raised by Almunia. These included claims that Google used its position to promote its own products; applied restrictions on other firms wishing to advertise and copied material from rival sites without permission.

Responding to the news, David Wood, the counsel for ICOMP, a software industry lobby group whose supporters include Microsoft, welcomed Google's acceptance of the Commission's terms as "an important step towards ensuring a diverse and open Internet."

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 largest existing EU anti-trust fine, the €1.6 billion fine levied on rival software giant Microsoft.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Three arrested in deadly French 'terror' attack
  2. Greece quarantines two migrant camps
  3. UK premier Boris Johnson hospitalised with coronavirus
  4. Former Libyan rebel leader Jibril dies of corona
  5. EU waives customs duties, VAT on vital medical imports
  6. Air France-KLM seeks state-backed loans
  7. New ventilators for EU will take time, commission says
  8. Drugs firms managing to meet demand, EU says

Coronavirus

EU depicts Africa's health system as a threat

After visiting European nationals first brought the virus to Africa, the European Union is now worried it could spread throughout the continent and bounce back to Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Coronabonds clash continues This WEEK
  2. EU depicts Africa's health system as a threat
  3. Greenland watches ... and waits for virus
  4. Coronavirus exposes lack of common data approach
  5. Virus recovery talks should ditch old taboos: EU's Vestager
  6. EU's 'Irini' Libya mission: Europe's Operation Cassandra
  7. Slovak army deployed to quarantine Roma settlements
  8. Lockdown: EU officials lobbied via WhatsApp and Skype

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us