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Google offers improved offer to address EU anti-trust concerns

English.news.cn   2014-02-06 00:50:49

BRUSSELS, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Google has made further concessions to address the European Union (EU)'s anti-trust concerns over the world's dominant search engine's online search and search advertising technologies, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

In its "improved commitments" proposal, Google has pledged that whenever it promotes its own specialized search services on its web page, the services of three rivals will also be displayed in a way that is clearly visible to users and comparable to the way in which Google displays its own services, the Commission said.

The principle will apply not only for Google's existing specialized search services, but also to changes in the presentation of those services and for future services.

The latest anti-trust pledge from Google is a second improved offer aimed to address regulatory concerns of the Commission that launched an anti-trust probe on Google's business practices more than three years ago.

Google had already pledged to give content providers an extensive opt-out from the use of their content in Google's specialized search services if they wish so, without being penalized by Google.

Google had also pledged to remove exclusivity requirements in its agreements with publishers for the provision of search advertisements and remove restrictions on the ability for search advertising campaigns to be run on competing search advertising platforms.

The commitments would cover the European Economic Area for five years, the Commission said.

Joaquin Almunia, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for competition, said he believed that the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the Commission's concerns.

"Without preventing Google from improving its own services, it provides users with real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way; it is then up to them to choose the best alternative," a Commission statement issued Wednesday quoted him as saying.

Addressing a press conference Wednesday, Almunia stressed that Google's compliance with this package of commitments would be supervised by an independent monitoring trustee who would advise the Commission in how Google would implement the commitments.

"The concessions we extracted from Google in this case are far-reaching and have the clear potential to restore a level playing-field in the important markets of online search and advertising," he said.

Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union prohibits any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market or a substantial part of it in so far as it may affect trade between member states.

The European Commission opened an anti-trust investigation on Google in November 2010, looking into 18 formal complaints against Google's business practices.

In March 2013, the Commission formally informed Google of its preliminary conclusions, raising four anti-trust concerns.

Google proposed a detailed text of commitments to address the four concerns in April 2013 and offered a first improved offer in October 2013 which the European Commission said was not yet sufficient to fully address the Commission's competition concerns.

Article 9 of the EU's Antitrust Regulation allows the Commission to end antitrust proceedings by making commitments offered by a company legally binding. If the company breaches these commitments, the Commission can impose a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual worldwide turnover, without having to find an infringement of the antitrust rules.

The Commission said Wednesday it will inform the complainants in this case of the reasons why it believes Google's offer is capable of addressing the Commission's concerns.

The complainants will then have the opportunity to make their views known to the Commission before the Commission takes a final decision on whether to make Google's commitments legally binding on Google.

"I will analyse thoroughly the feedback they will provide and only after that will I propose to the College of Commissioners to adopt a final decision," Almunia told reporters. "This process will take a number of months."

Editor: yan
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