EU's Almunia: Google has until July to address antitrust concerns

The European Union's competition commissioner says today that if his office doesn't receive "concrete signs" of improvement, it will launch a formal complaint.

European Union competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia last month sent a notice to Google over concerns his office has with the search giant's alleged "abuses of dominance." And now, he's giving the company a deadline.

"On May 21, I sent a letter to Google underlining our concerns in its business practices that we identified in our preliminary investigations that started in November 2010," Almunia said in a speech today. "I want to give the company the opportunity to offer remedy proposals that would avoid lengthy proceedings. By early July, I expect to receive from Google concrete signs of their willingness to explore this route."

According to Almunia, if Google fails to address his concerns or denies any attempt to come to a quick resolution, his office will launch a formal antitrust complaint against the search giant.

"I strongly believe that users and competitors would greatly benefit from a quick resolution of the case," Almunia said. "It is always better to restore competition swiftly in fast-moving markets, provided of course that the companies concerned are ready to seriously address and solve the problems at stake."

Last month, Almunia announced that his office had four "concerns" with Google's operation , including its contention that Google displays its own services in a different manner than links to competing offerings and that the search company may be "copying original material" from other Web sites. The other two complaints relate to Gogole's handling of search advertisements.

Soon after Almunia outlined those concerns, Google responded in an statement to CNET, saying that it does not agree with the issues outlined.

"We disagree with the conclusions but we're happy to discuss any concerns they might have," the company said. "Competition on the Web has increased dramatically in the last two years since the Commission started looking at this and the competitive pressures Google faces are tremendous. Innovation online has never been greater."

CNET has contacted Google for comment on Almunia's latest statements. We will update this story when we have more information.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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