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Google Closer to EU Antitrust Settlement

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google-eu-antitrustGoogle is getting ever closer to a settlement with the Euroopean Commission regarding its search and advertising antitrust probe.

European Commission antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia said on Tuesday that EU regulators had reached "a good degree of understanding between Google and the Commission," according to the Wall Street Journal

"Hopefully in the coming days or weeks we will have the first technical meeting [to resolve the case]," he said.

A Google spokesman said that it continues to work cooperatively with the European Commission, but didn't offer any details.

The EU Competition Commissioner last week said that he wants to resolve the antitrust probe, which began in November 2010, over claims that Google discriminates against rival businesses, rather than pursue an enforcement action.

No doubt, Google wants to avoid a potential $4 billion fine – 10 percent of Google's annual revenue. Google outlined a proposal earlier this month to end the EU antitrust investigation.

The European investigation has looked into a number of areas but focused on whether Google has been exploiting its dominant position in search and advertising.

Last month Almunia suggested that the company should use its time wisely and save everyone from a long and drawn out investigation into its business practices, because his team already had a lot of cases, such as patent wars, already on the table.

"I want to give the company the opportunity to offer remedy proposals that would avoid lengthy proceedings," he said in a speech. "By early July, I expect to receive from Google concrete signs of their willingness to explore this route."

Google has been under scrutiny from regulators pressured by competitors to probe whether it is using techniques to push out competing web search firms. Microsoft powered searches, which includes Bing and its partner Yahoo, accounted for a combined 25.6 percent of the web search market in the U.S. in June, according to comScore, while Google has around 95 percent of internet search traffic in Europe.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.


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