The EU Antitrust for Google seems to be a never ending story. In this part of the story, there was a post from the Wall Street Journal that tells of the collapse of the Google-European Commission antitrust settlement. It looks like there is a lot of pressure from major European publishers, rival and politicians undermining the entire deal.
This is that moment that nobody is quite sure of where to go from here.
If something doesn’t happen soon and a settlement isn’t reached, a formal “Statement of Objections” will begin and this could end with billions of dollars in fines for Google. What happens after a Statement of Objections is filed and served? Here’s the European Commissions discussion about it:
“A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission investigations into suspected violations of EU rules on restrictive business practices. The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them and the companies can examine the documents on the Commission’s investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities.
If, after the parties have exercised their rights of defence, the Commission concludes that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can issue a decision prohibiting the conduct and impose a fine of up to 10% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover.”
To make matters worse for Google, there are those in Europe who are calling for the company to be broken up into smaller businesses, and others are wanting Google to reveal their search algorithm.
Czar Joaquín Almunia, has asked Google to come up with proposals and concessions beyond what they have already come up with to help resolve the situation. But to throw a wrench in the works even further, Almunia only has a month left, and his successor, Margrethe Vestager, who is the Danish government minister, will be taking the helm. At this point, she is a wild card in this situation because her stance on Google isn’t entirely clear. But, she has been quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal that fair online competition will be “very, very high” on the agenda once she takes office.