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Google's European Commission antitrust settlement meeting resistance

updated 12:47 pm EDT, Sat May 24, 2014

French, German commissioners balking, need more from the deal

Despite Google having made "significant concessions" in its eyes to the European Commission anti-trust regulatory agency, at least two commissioners are calling for more from the search engine. Politicians from France and Germany are demanding that Google add more to the package to allow for a more level playing field for European businesses, or scrap the proposal entirely and start from scratch.

The tentative agreement between the search company and the regulator will see Google display the search results from competing services, among other proposals for promoting other companies, in order to put the three-year antitrust investigation to an end.

Initial proposals to appease the concerns of its competitors were rejected, leading to a second set that also failed to gain traction.

Towards the end of last year, antitrust officials declared the latest proposals failed to go far enough, with EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia claiming at the time the proposals were "not acceptable" enough to eliminate concerns, but still advised Google could still amend proposals in order to avoid a potential $5 billion fine.

European Union Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is one of the commissioners who must approve the proposal. He believes that "the offers by Google aren't worthless, but they're not nearly enough."

"I could see a chance of the European Commission saying with a majority that this is an exceptional, precedent-setting case," Oettinger said of fellow opposition to the deal becoming more vocal in an election season. "We must do everything so that the market power of Google doesn't become ever stronger."

French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg opposed the deal by saying that "we don't want to become a digital colony of global Internet giants." Specifically addressing European companies, Montebourg declared that "it is necessary, indeed urgent, to put in place a framework that guarantees a level playing field" for home-grown companies.

Chief of the European Commission Joaquin Almunia seems to be caving to pressure from commissioners, and reversing stance on previous statements defending the deal. Almunia responded to the opposition, saying that "if, because of the arguments of the complainants, we consider that the proposals that we have on the table aren't enough, we will need to decide on the next steps." Any change in the deal won't happen until the end of the summer break.

by MacNN Staff



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