EU watchdog gets Google’s proposals

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Brussels - Google has presented detailed proposals to allay anti-competitive concerns about its business practices, the EU antitrust regulator said on Friday, in a move which brings the company a step closer to resolving a two-year investigation.

The European Commission has been investigating the world's most popular search engine following complaints from more than a dozen companies, including Microsoft, that Google has used its market power to block rivals.

Asked if he had received Google's proposal to resolve the matter, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told Reuters: “Yes.”

He declined to provide details on the proposal, adding only: “We are analysing it.”

The Commission, which acts as competition regulator in the 27-member European Union, is now expected to seek feedback from Google rivals and other interested parties.

Almunia told Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in December his company had until this month to present a comprehensive offer to allay regulatory concerns and stave off a possible fine.

Such a penalty could be as much as 10 percent of global turnover if a company is found to be in breach of EU rules. That could mean $4 billion if there is no satisfactory resolution in Google's case.

The Commission has said Google may have favoured its own search services over those of rivals, and copied travel and restaurant reviews from competing sites without permission.

The EU executive is also concerned the company may have put restrictions on advertisers and advertising to prevent them from moving their online campaigns to competing search engines.

Earlier this month, Google won a major victory when US antitrust regulators ended their investigation, saying the company had not manipulated its web search results to block rivals. - Reuters

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