The European Union will seek an accord with US Internet search giant
Google as progress has been made in resolving EU anti-trust concerns, EU
Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday.
he made the decision after meeting Google head Eric Schmidt in Brussels
as "we have substantially reduced our differences regarding possible
ways to address" EU competition concerns since talks began in July.
the basis of the progress made, I now expect Google to come forward
with a detailed commitment text in January 2013," he said in a
This text will used as the basis to firm up the
measures Google should take which will "then be market-tested, leading
to a possible decision with binding commitments."
The EU listed
four areas of concern regarding Google, chief among them how it can
highlight links with its own search services in specific areas such as
travel or restaurants.
It also has concerns over how Google may
use and display third party content on its search services; the possible
use of exclusivity agreements by the company and restrictions on
allowing advertisers who would want to move their advertising from the
company's AdWords service.
The Commission launched an anti-trust
investigation into allegations that Google had abused its dominant
market position in November 2010.
Tuesday's EU announcement came
after reports that US regulators were also likely to conclude a lengthy
anti-trust probe into Google's dominance of Internet searches with a
The Wall Street Journal said Monday that
Google was likely to agree to a settlement with the Federal Trade
Commission that calls for unspecified changes in how it handles search
queries but would stop short of signing a consent decree that could be
enforced by a court.
The Washington Post also reported that a
settlement was likely this week, saying it would fall well short of what
Google's rivals had sought.
The online news site Politico
reported that the FTC did not have the votes to bring an enforcement
action against Google but that the settlement would include new
practices on the use of "snippets" of user reviews from companies such
as Yelp and TripAdvisor, companies which have said Google uses such
content without permission.
Politico said Google will also pledge
to make it easier for advertisers to buy ad space on its search engine
and to move their ad campaigns to competing sites.
Google controls some 70 percent of the Internet search market and the
advertising that goes along with it and may exert even more power in the
mobile sector by controlling the Android operating system used on
two-thirds of smartphones.
Google has been accused of "scraping"
content from other services like travel and restaurant reviews while
keeping consumers on its own sites.
It is also under fire for
allegedly promoting its own services including travel, restaurant
reviews and YouTube videos in its search results.