European Commission divided over Google antitrust deal

By Danny Palmer
14 Feb 2014 View Comments
European commission

One in three members of the European Commission are against the European Union's decision to come to an agreement with Google and end a three-year antitrust investigation into the web firm.

Google rivals - including Microsoft - had voiced concerns that the California web giant was using its dominant position in the market to draw business away from its competitors.

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The Competition Commission investigated whether Google's search engine favours the firm's own assets, such as YouTube, ranking them higher on the search results page, while actively hindering those of rivals.

But last week, following long negotiations, European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced that he'd accepted a proposal by Google to display rivals' links more prominently.

However, it seems the Commission is divided about the deal, with nine commissioners believing the search giant has got off too lightly, especially given it could have potentially faced a fine of billions.

Several commissioners made their views on this clear during a four hour discussion in the Commission's weekly meeting, Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger revealed, and Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier also said there had been frank talks.

"We had a very long debate which shows that there are a lot of concerns and questions," he said. "We haven't finished our work on this subject."

But Almunia's spokesperson said the competition commissioner was happy to move forward and is already planning the next move.

"Almunia explained in a detailed way why Google's proposals address our concerns and what the next steps will be," Antoine Colombani said.

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