Google: Competitors more visible in deal with EU

Google has made a new settlement proposal to the European Commission in which the search giant makes further concessions to prevent a competition investigation. The European Commission is satisfied, but has not yet made a final decision.

In the new settlement proposal, Google is, among other things, willing to give competitors more space in its search engine. When Google shows results for its own specialized search services, for example for internet purchases, hotels and restaurants, the services of three competitors are also promoted. These are displayed in a way that is ‘clearly visible’ to users and that is similar to how Google promotes its own services. Reuters reported last week that Google was willing to make further concessions.

If the settlement is reached, it will be valid for the next five years and throughout the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, but excluding Croatia. The settlement now seems close; the European Commission says it is happy with Google’s proposals, but wants to consult Google’s competitors before making a final judgment. Google’s previous settlement proposals were rejected after objections from competitors, although Google indicated that it wanted to give competitors space.

Kent Walker, a Google lawyer, said in a written statement that the settlement proposal for Google will result in “significant changes” in the way the search giant operates in Europe. He says the company hopes that the European Commission and Google can work it out together.

Other search engine changes have already been proposed by Google and, for example, make it possible for competitors to remove themselves from Google’s specialist search engines without being penalized in any other way. So they can choose to be removed from the Shopping search engine, for example, without being removed from the regular search index. In addition, Google will no longer hinder advertisers from advertising with competitors.

The European Commission is concerned about the strong dominant position of Google, which has an even larger market share in Europe than in its home country the United States. If Google does not reach a settlement with the Commission, the search giant runs the risk of years of competition investigation, as Microsoft did in the 1990s.