EU turns down Google’s fresh attempt to settle antitrust case

Google’s revised proposals to settle an antitrust case are not acceptable, European Union competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said yesterday.

Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt

“The latest offer as submitted by Google in October ... the latest proposals are not acceptable in the sense that they are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition,” Almunia said.

Google offered the concessions in a bid to end a three-year old investigation by the European Commission and avert a fine that could be as high as $5bn for blocking competitors in search results.

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Asked if there would be sanctions against Google, Almunia said: “No, no, no... At this moment, there is little time left, but the ball is still in Google’s court.

“But within a short time frame, the ball will then be here (with the Commission) and then it will be the moment to take decisions.”

Almunia said that, in particular, Google’s latest offer did not remove the Commission’s concerns about the way Google’s rivals in so-called vertical searches – searches for price comparison products – were being treated.

He reached his conclusion after EU regulators asked 125 Google rivals and third parties to provide feedback on the company’s second attempt to settle the investigation.

Google’s original proposal in April was rejected by its competitors, who said that the changes would only reinforce the company’s dominance.