Commission to assess settlement offer from internet giant.
The European Commission has declined to specify how long it would take to assess a “detailed” settlement offer from Google aimed at allaying concerns that some of the US firm's practices are anti-competitive.
Google submitted a document shortly before the informal deadline of midnight on 31 January, which was imposed by Joaquín Almunia, the European commissioner for competition. A spokesman for Almunia refused to comment on the contents of the Google proposal and said that it would be analysed by Commission officials. He added that Google's offer was aimed at “reaching a settlement”, but that officials had not yet been able to judge whether the company's proposals would be sufficient. He said that he could “not yet anticipate the next steps” and refused to say how long the process could take.
The Commission has been investigating Google since November 2010, amid complaints from search-engine rivals, including Microsoft, that the company uses a dominant position to shut out competition.
Almunia has said that Google may have breached EU competition rules in four areas, including favouring its own search services ahead of competitors' in specialised search areas and placing restrictions on advertisers that want to move to other search engines.
Since the start of the investigation Google has said that it would work co-operatively with the Commission to try to reach a settlement.
If Google does not come up with remedies that the Commission believes allay competition concerns, it could be fined up to 10% of its worldwide turnover.
David Wood, legal counsel for the Microsoft-backed Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP), said: “To be seen as a success, any settlement must include specific measures to restore competition and allow other parties to compete effectively on a level playing-field. Any settlement must include explicit acceptance by Google of its dominance and that it has damaged European businesses through its anti-competitive practices.”
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