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December 19, 2012

EU gives antitrust deadline to Google

End of long-running antitrust saga could be near

By CBR Staff Writer

European Union regulators have given Google one month to close a settlement with the EU competition authority. It also revealed that the company has made considerable progress in addressing concerns for allegedly misusing its dominance in the market.

EU antitrust chief Joaquín Almunia said that Google will have to send a final proposal by the end of January 2013 to resolve all concerns.

"Since our preliminary talks with Google started in July, we have substantially reduced our differences regarding possible ways to address each of the four competition concerns expressed by the commission," Almunia said. "The preliminary assessment would serve as a basis for Google to present formal commitments which would then be market-tested, leading to a possible decision with binding commitments."

Google is alleged to have discriminated against some sites by downplaying them in its rankings, closing down competition with advertising agreements with other websites, as well as restraining advertisers from shifting their online ad campaigns to rival search engines.

The signing of the deal would conclude an investigation started two years ago by the EU antitrust watchdog and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to verify whether Google distorts search results to favour its services.

Google, which is close to deal with the FTC, had agreed to modify its algorithms and search practices.

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