Tuesday, March 28, 2023
HometechnologyGoogle reaches deal to settle European antitrust case

Google reaches deal to settle European antitrust case

Google reached a deal with European antitrust authorities on Wednesday, ending a lengthy competition investigation into the American tech company's practices that could have led to billions of dollars in penalties.

Under the agreement, Google would pay no fine and there would be no finding of wrongdoing. Such a finding could have limited its future activities on the Continent.

(Read more: After 3 years, Google clinches EU anti-trust deal)

The discussions have centered on whether Google abused its dominance in Internet search and advertising to favor its own products and services in search results. The agreement would require Google to give rivals more prominence in its promoted results. Some competitors said the settlement doesn't go far enough, adding that they may take their case to the European Court of Justice.

The European Commission said it would seek comment from Google's rivals before making the deal legally binding later this year, though Joaquín Almunia, the European Union's competition commissioner, said any feedback would be unlikely to drastically change the final agreement.

GoogleGetty Images

"If I receive strong arguments that oblige changes to my decision, I am always ready, I am flexible," Mr. Almunia told reporters on Wednesday. "I don't see why, from now on, I would change my mind based on the proposals Google has put forward."

The deal marks the culmination of almost four years of negotiations between Google and the European Union, whose officials rejected two earlier settlement offers. Google is used for roughly 90 percent of searches in many European markets, slightly higher than its 70 percent market share in the United States.

Mr. Almunia, who leaves his post later this year, had made the antitrust settlement with Google a top priority, though some analysts question whether the agreement will drastically alter Google's dominance within Europe's Internet landscape.

(Read more: Coast Guard confirms Google link to mystery barge)

As part of the deal, Google will have to give greater prominence to rivals in European search results for the next five years, which could lead to major changes in how its search business operates in Europe compared to other parts of the world.

That includes displaying results from three competitors every time Google shows its own results for searches related to products, restaurants and hotels.

Rivals will have to pay Google each time their results are shown next to the search giant's own results through a bidding process overseen by an independent monitor, according to European officials.


Most Popular