European Commission reopens antitrust investigation into Google’s search and ad business

The European Commission is set to reopen its four-year antitrust investigation into Google’s search and advertising business following “very, very negative” responses.

Announcing the move to Bloomberg, Joaquin Almunia, the EC’s antitrust chief, said that he is “trying to extract” solutions from Google to arguments that have been put forward.

He said: “In this investigation, we received a lot of complaints. We have been trying to obtain from Google proposals to overcome the difficulties and the concerns. Now with the last version of proposals we came back to the complainants. The complainants sent us replies during the summer. Some of these replies are very, very negative.”

He added that it is not clear when the investigation will be complete: “We are in an ongoing process so I cannot anticipate the end, I cannot anticipate the conclusions. We work in a rigorous way, as always, trying to understand the arguments of the complainants and trying to extract from Google solutions to these solid arguments. We are in this process.”

The investigation started in 2010, when Almunia began to look into Google’s dominance in the European search advertising market, and if this required regulatory action.

A Google spokesperson said: “We continue to work with the EC to resolve the concerns they have raised.”

In January 2013, Almunia told Google that it had to change the way it presented search results in Europe or face sanctions.

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