Google’s European antitrust saga continues, once again coming down to concessions. This time, the search giant is offering further concessions in an attempt to avoid a $5 billion fine and finally end the three-year investigation which stems from complaints it was blocking competitors.
The back-and-forth between Google and the European Commission, the European Union’s antitrust regulator, has been going on for some time now. Back in April, for example, Google submitted concessions hoping to end the antitrust probe, but the Commission ended up demanding more concessions, viewing Google’s attempt as not serious enough.
As such, it’s hard to take this latest batch of concessions, delivered Monday morning, any more seriously; it’s likely the EC won’t be satisfied. That said, Google spokesperson Al Verney seemed confident that this time the company has reached a level that will satisfy the Commission.
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“Our proposal to the European Commission addresses their four areas of concern. We continue to work with the Commission to settle this case,” said Verney.
Meanwhile, the lobbying group that first made complaints against Google, FairSearch, has urged the Commission to consider feedback from the company’s rivals. If the EC does this, it’s possible another round of concessions will be requested and the case will continue. FairSearch is made up of a number of rival search companies, including Microsoft, online travel agency Expedia, and price comparison sites such as Foundem and Twenga.
The initial complaint against Google suggested that the company favored its own search services in lieu of those of its rivals and that it copied travel and restaurant reviews from other sites without permission. So far, Google has attempted to address these grievances by proposing to provide links to at least three competing search engines, as well as to separate its services from those of competitors.
It’s unclear what new concessions Google has offered up, but if the company can’t reach a settlement, it won’t be able to avoid a fine.
Edited by Alisen Downey