EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia spoke at Fordham University in New York City at an antitrust conference on Thursday. After talking about financial markets, benchmark rates manipulation, intellectual property and “keeping digital markets level and open,” Almunia had some things to say about his concerns with Google and with Microsoft.
Almunia said this about Google:
As to Google, it is well known that we have competition concerns that the company is using its dominance in online search to foreclose rival specialised search engines and search advertisers.
After several exchanges with me, Google has agreed to propose solutions in the four specific areas of concern that we have identified.
I have now instructed my staff to engage into technical discussions with Google in order to assess in-depth the solutions presented to us.
If effective solutions were found quickly and tested successfully, competition could be restored at an early stage by means of a commitment decision.
However, we are not there yet, and it must be clear that – in the absence of satisfactory proposals in the short term – I will be obliged to continue with our formal proceedings.
Let me add that this process is without prejudice to the separate investigation of other issues involving Google that have been raised with the Commission.
He said this about Microsoft:
Back in 2009, the company ended an antitrust investigation of the European Commission when it pledged to offer a ‘choice screen’ that would allow us to easily pick our preferred web browsers.
This remedy was very effective while it was implemented and the case is widely regarded as one of the most relevant antitrust cases of the last decade at EU level.
It has recently emerged that the company has not kept its commitments. Microsoft itself has confirmed that it failed to roll out the choice screen with the version of Windows released in February 2011.
This means that for around one and a half years millions of users in the EU have not seen the choice screen.
Generally speaking, I consider that the commitments offered by the companies themselves are a good way to solve competition problems, as an alternative to lengthy proceedings.
But the policy can work only if they translate their words into action. This is why I take compliance very seriously and I will make sure that we take the necessary decisions as a matter of priority.
You can read the full speech here.
More on the Google “antitrust” saga here.[via FairSearch]