EU: Google Antitrust Settlement Not Enough

Dennis Faas's picture

It appears the European Union feels Google's suggestions for settling complaints it engaged in anti-competitive behavior don't go far enough. The search giant had promised to change the way it orders search results, but this wasn't enough for the groups that brought up the complaints.

The EU recently carried out a lengthy investigation into complaints that Google exploited its dominance of the search market to increase advertising revenue. It's a claim Google denies.

Google was accused of deliberately favoring sites it owned when determining search rankings.

In the United States, Google was able to settle similar claims with only some minor changes in policy. However, the company has since been hit with fresh allegations, this time involving display advertising sales.

Google Agrees to Change Search Rankings

In the EU investigation Google offered to settle the case (without admitting guilt) with some more drastic measures. Most notably, it would highlight any results featuring sites it owned and make sure that when this happened, it also showed some rival sites on the results page.

The EU put the proposal out for consultation and rival firms quickly dismissed the idea. They said the settlement completely missed the point and that what was really needed was for Google to rank sites objectively, taking no notice of whether or not Google owned a site.

Joaquin Almunia, the public official in charge of competition issues in the EU, says he's extending the feedback process by another month. However, he also indicated to European officials that he found Google's offer unsatisfactory. (Source:

Absence of Deal Could Spark Court Battle

Almunia is still hopeful that Google and the EU can reach a legally-binding settlement by the end of the year. (Source:

There's no word yet on how Google will respond. If a deal isn't reached, the EU would have to consider taking formal legal action, which could result in a lengthy court battle.

In effect, the two sides are trying to get the best possible deal from a settlement knowing that, without an arrangement, a court case would be an all-or-nothing gamble.

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