Earlier this year, it was starting to look like the EU’s lengthy antitrust probe into Google was getting close to finally wrapping up. Now, it’s not looking like that’s the case.
In early February, the EU announced that it had obtained what it referred to as “an improved commitments proposal” from Google (not the first proposal from the search giant). It appeared that the EU itself was satisfied, but said it would listen to feedback from complainants before a settlement was to be finalized.
A week later, Google published the full agreement for all to see.
“Following three rounds of negotiations and significant concessions, we are glad to have now reached an agreement with the European Commission that addresses its competition concerns,” wrote Kent Walker, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for Google.
The details included: changes to AdSense terms making it easier for publishers to place ads on their sites from multiple providers; changes to the AdWords API terms to make it easier for software providers to build tools for advertisers to manage campaigns across platforms; new rules regarding how Google would use website content in vertical search services; and changes to the Google UI that will give rival services significant prominence and “valuable screen space” in search results.
Naturally, Google’s competitors (otherwise known as complainants) weren’t satisfied. Yelp was even officially named as an official complainant as recently as last month.
According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, EU regulators are “preparing to step up their investigation, and are “likely to revise some terms” of the settlement. According to the WSJ’s sources, a final decision may not even come until the outgoing EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia’s replacement is in place. Almunia is to leave his post in November.
To be continued…
Image via Google