End possibly in sight as Google vs EU anti-trust case reaches ‘a key moment’

1 Oct 2013

Google and the EU have reached a key moment in the competition case surrounding its search technologies, the vice-president of the European Commission for Competition Policy Joaquin Almunia said today.

New proposals from Google include making links to rivals significantly more visible and making a larger space of the Google search result page dedicated to them.

The proposals include making rivals’ logos appear next to results links and there will be dynamic text associated with each rival link.

The proposals also include an auction mechanism to allow search providers to bid for each specific query.

Google has also offered to cease imposing obligations that will prevent advertisers from porting and managing search advertising campaigns across Google’s services and competing services.

“We have reached a key moment in this case,” Almunia told lawmakers in Europe this morning.

“Now, with the significant improvements on the table, I think we have the possibility to work again and seek to find an effective solution based on a decision under Article 9 of the Antitrust Regulation.”

He said Google has committed to support the new proposals with empirical data to demonstrate their impact.

The next steps involve seeking opinions from stakeholders through information requests.

“We know the general positions of the complainants and other stakeholders. What we need now is to receive concrete technical elements on the effectiveness of the proposed package in order to conclude whether this new proposal is satisfactory from a competition point of view.

“If our investigation on this improved proposal is satisfactory, I will continue the commitments route and end up with a formal decision next spring,” Almunia said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years