EC Says Google Antitrust Investigation Won’t Be Affected By FTC Green Light

Joaquin Almunia EC Competition Commissioner

Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia says he is convinced Google is abusing dominant position

European Competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has claimed its Google antitrust investigation will not be affected by the US Federal Trade Commission‘s (FTC) decision to clear the search engine of any wrongdoing in the US.

The FTC found there was insufficient evidence to suggest Google had been manipulating its search algorithms to favour its own services, but a voluntary agreement to change some of its business practices was accepted.

Almunia told the Financial Times the decision was neither an advantage for Google nor an obstacle for the EU and reiterated his belief that although the investigation was ongoing, it was his conviction the company was diverting traffic to its own services in a potential abuse of dominance.

EC Google antitrust investigation

He added there is no hard feeling between the EU and its US counterparts, adding that the two bodies work well together and in most cases see eye to eye. It has been suggested the contrasting opinions on Google results from different legal cultures and the fact that Google’s market share in the US is 67 percent, compared to the 90 percent it controls in Europe.

Almunia’s aim, either through a settlement or through legal action, is to change the way that Google presents its search results, not the underlying algorithm. The suggestion is that by giving preference to its own services, Google is harming its rivals and denying consumers access to what could be better information.

Earlier this week, a British shopping comparison website filed a lawsuit against Google in London, “seeking damages for revenue lost as a result of Google’s “anti-competitive conduct”.

The Commissioner has repeatedly expressed his desire to reach a settlement with Google. A meeting between the two parties was believed to be positive and increased the likelihood of a deal being agreed.

This would avoid a lengthy legal battle and fine for the search giant, while the EC would receive legally binding commitments over Google’s future conduct. A settlement would also not be an admission of guilt, but would not be the ideal outcome for rivals such as Microsoft, which have failed complaints with the Commission.

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