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Google makes 'proposal' to Europe on antitrust concerns

Brussels examining missive from Eric Schmidt

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Google has submitted what it described as a "proposal" to antitrust officials in Brussels that the search giant said addresses the "abuse of dominance" claims outlined by competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia in May this year.

The company, which has been investigated by the EC since November 2010 over allegations that it favours its own search products over those of its rivals, was effectively ordered by Almunia to quickly offer "proposals of remedies" if it wished to settle the case rather than face "lengthy proceedings" in Europe.

Just last week the comissioner said: "We are currently negotiating a settlement solution in our investigation of the e-books market and have offered Google the opportunity to take that route."

Google submitted a letter signed by its chairman Eric Schmidt to Almunia's office late this afternoon, London time.

A spokeswoman at the Commission confirmed to The Register that Almunia had received the letter from Google and his team was now examining it.

Lobby group Fairsearch.org gave El Reg this statement:

"We hope the proposals reflect a greater willingness to end Google's anti-competitive behavior than has its consistent rejection of the concerns that Mr. Almunia identified after collecting evidence for nearly two years."

Your correspondent asked Schmidt in May to explain whether Google would indeed submit "proposals of remedies" to the EC. He claimed at the time that the dominant search engine outfit - which holds sway over around 90 per cent of the market in Europe - was operating lawfully.

"We disagree that we are in violation. Until they are precise about what areas of the law we have violated, it will be very difficult for me to speculate," Schmidt told The Reg.

It will be interesting to see if the company has agreed to settle on Almunia's terms, offered some form of concession, or else once again defended its market position with the proposal now on the table. ®

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