EU to demand more antitrust concessions from Google

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EU regulators have given their broadest hint yet that they expect Google to come up with further concessions to settle an antitrust case, as rival firms have hit out at its present terms.

Google had already submitted proposals to deal with the case, by offering to label its own products in search results and allow advertisers to move to rival platforms.

But complainants have said these concessions do not go far enough. This has led to Joaquin Almunia, the Competition Commissioner for the European Union, to extend the deadline for rival firms to give feedback on the proposals from 26 May to 27 June.

"After, we will analyse the responses we have received, we will ask Google, probably, I cannot anticipate this formally, but almost 100 per cent we will ask Google: you should improve your proposals," Almunia told the European Parliament. Almunia did not specify how Google should improve its offer.

Microsoft, Oracle and the British shopping comparison website Foundem are among the complainants that have called for Google to stop favouring its own services in search results.

Proposals from Google to settle the case were part of the European Commission's formal antitrust process. If Google loses the case it could be fined up to 10 per cent of its global revenues of $31 billion.

Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google, said in a statement to Bloomberg the firm believed its "proposal to the European Commission addresses the four concerns that were raised".

"We continue to work with the commission to settle this case," he added.

Almunia also said that regulators are considering whether to investigate a separate complaint about its Android OS.

"We have received a formal complaint regarding some aspects of the Android ecosystem," Almunia said at the hearing before the European Parliament. "We haven't decided if we will open or not a formal investigation."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.