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EU and Google to settle row

February 5, 2014

The EU and Google are close to a settlement in a dispute over the search engine’s preferential treatment of its own services to the detriment of rivals. A deal was in sight after Google had made concessions, the EU said.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

US technology firm Google has addressed EU Commission concerns by proposing changes to its Internet search engine, EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced Wednesday.

The changes would provide users with a real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way, said Almunia, who is in charge of overseeing the bloc's competition rules.

Under the deal, Google will allow three rivals to display their logos and web links in a prominent box, and content providers will be able to decide what material Google can use for its own services. In addition, Google accepted that it must scrap restrictions preventing advertisers from moving their campaigns to rival platforms.

Since 2010, the Internet giant has been in the focus of an EU Commission probe investigating claims by more than a dozen complainants that Google was promoting its services at the expense of its rivals.

Simple search engines, like Google and Bing

Google has made a total of three proposals for changes, and now hopes to draw a line under the case soon.

“We will be making significant changes to the way Google operates in Europe, and look forward to resolving this matter,” said the firm's General Counsel Kent Walker.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that a final decision would be made after complainants such as Microsoft, Yahoo and others had issued statements on the proposed changes.

uhe/dr (Reuters, dpa)