Today, at the International Competition Law Forum, European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia gave an update on the investigation into “four concerns where Google business practices may be considered as abuses of dominance” (see his letter to Google identifying the potential violations of law). Almunia’s prepared remarks said:
“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.
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.
In case we engage in negotiations to address our concerns and the proposals we receive turn out to be unsatisfactory, formal proceedings will continue through the adoption of a Statement of Objections.
I strongly believe that users and competitors would greatly benefit from a quick resolution of the case; 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.”
Upon receiving the May 21 letter, Google responded “we disagree that we are in violation, until they are more precise on what area of the law we are in violation of. Give us the precise data, the precise problem.”
FairSearch members agree with Almunia that a rapid, permanent and legally-binding change to Google’s business practices is preferable to a drawn-out formal process. But, if Google is unwilling to end its anticompetitive practices immediately, FairSearch agrees that Almunia has no other option but to bring a Statement of Objections laying out the evidence that Google is violating the law.