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EU antitrust chief reverses decision, says Google must improve offer or face charges

EU antitrust chief reverses decision, says Google must improve offer or face charges


Joaquin Almunia says 'fresh evidence' from competitors has raised concerns over Google's proposal

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The European Union's antitrust commissioner today said that Google will face charges unless it improves its proposal to settle a four-year antitrust probe. In a speech published Tuesday, Joaquin Almunia said that complaints from competitors "have given us fresh evidence and solid arguments against several aspects of the latest proposals put forward by Google." The commissioner added that Google has been informed of the EU's concerns, and that regulators were awaiting its response.

At issue is the way in which Google displays results from competing companies on its search pages. The company published a settlement proposal in February, promising to display results from three competitors alongside its own services, though it has come under criticism from Microsoft and other companies. Earlier this month, Microsoft said that its own test of the proposal showed that it would in fact send traffic to Google services, while travel company ETTSA claimed that Google stood to earn more than $400 million in revenue from selling the promoted links to its rivals. Microsoft's study found that users were 99 times more likely to click on links to Google's own services than those of its competitors.

These claims heightened pressure on Almunia, who initially welcomed and defended Google's offer amid protests from European regulators. A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.