Fresh Google move to meet EU concerns
GOOGLE HAS submitted a revised package of concessions to address the concerns of Europe’s top competition authority, bringing the talks to settle the EU antitrust investigation to a critical juncture.
Joaquín Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner, recently spoke to Google chairman Eric Schmidt and requested that the US group clarify some elements of its informal offer submitted two weeks ago.
The initial Google proposal came after Mr Almunia delivered an ultimatum to the internet search group to change its business practices or face formal antitrust charges, a protracted legal dispute and the threat of multibillion-dollar fines.
Mr Almunia’s demand for clarifications suggests Google’s first offer was not on its own sufficient to be accepted as a “serious and credible” overture to cease its allegedly anti-competitive behaviour. However, the bargaining under way – which Mr Schmidt recently described as a “back and forth” with the regulator – indicates that Google put enough on the table to make serious follow-up worthwhile.
Mr Almunia’s team will now analyse the updated proposal, which sets the parameters for any final settlement. Within the next fortnight, he will decide whether to serve Google with formal charges or open the next phase of talks to agree technical details of a settlement.
The decision is finely balanced. Both Mr Almunia and Google are keen to reach a speedy deal and avoid a decade of wrangling through the courts. Mr Almunia however said that Google’s offer must address all his concerns. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012