Google could be nearer a resolution of some of its EU antitrust wranglings as its latest proposals have been met favourably by the European Commission.
In a speech to the European Parliament yesterday, Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission responsible for European Competition policy, says the latest proposal:
"more appropriately addresses the need for any commitments to be able to cover future developments. Therefore, the new proposal relates to queries entered in Google in whatever form - whether they are typed or spoken – and irrespective of the entry point or the device."
Almunia had asked the search giant to "significantly" improve its proposals in early July after negative feedback from many quarters during a market test.
He also wanted proposals to take into account evolution in online search since the antitrust process began in 2010 and the growth of interaction via mobile.
In the address to Parliament, Almunia says Google has made significant improvements relating to the vertical search concern - feedback from the market test indicated that links to rivals in specialised search services were still not visible enough.
"The new proposal makes these links significantly more visible. A larger space of the Google search result page is dedicated to them. Rivals have the possibility to display their logo next to the link, and there will be a dynamic text associated to each rival link to better inform the user of its content."
Back in March, the European Competition Commission identified four areas of concern including:
- the favourable treatment of Google's own services in search results
- the use of third party web content by Google in search without consent
Both Expedia and TripAdvisor have filed complaints with the European Commission over alleged anti-competitive practises
Almunia goes on to say that he sees the possibility of an effective solution via Article 9 of the Antitrust which means legally binding commitments for Google.
Promises include the establishment of an independent monitoring trustee to ensure proposals are implemented and empirical data from Google to demonstrate the impact of the improvements.
The next step is to gather feedback from complainants on the revised proposals and if that is satisfactory, a formal decision next Spring. If not, Almunia says he will be forced to turn to Article 7 of the regulations which could mean hefty fines for Google.
NB: Search image via Shutterstock