Google doesn’t have much time left to find a way to settle antitrust allegations from the European Union before it’s hit with a massive fine.
The EU started investigating Google for possible antitrust activities back in 2010 when it accused the company of giving priority to its own services in search results. Google Search, the EU argued, unfairly down-ranked services from competitors.
Google submitted several proposals to the EU in an effort to resolve the dispute. The most recent proposal included labeling links of Google services like Shopping in search results so everyone can see when a Google service is promoted over a competitor. Every proposal was rejected by the EU, though, with antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia saying they “are not acceptable in the sense that they are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition.”
There is still some time for Google to submit a proposal that will satisfy Almunia and the rest of the EU. If it can’t find something that works in time it could be hit with a $5 billion fine by the commission. It’s not clear if there will be any other actions taken against Google if it can’t submit a workable solution.
The latest proposals are not acceptable in the sense that they are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition
The EU wants to close the case against Google sometime in the spring of 2014, about four years after it started. That seems like a long time, but these sorts of investigations often take considerable time, and the EU isn’t exactly known to be the speediest bureaucracy. Still, it seems Google is down to the wire here with very little time left to make everyone happy.
Do you think Google will be able to find a way to avoid the fine from the EU? Have they operated in an unfair manner?