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Google EU deal not universally loved

by on14 February 2014

Cracks in Brussels

While the EU deal letting Google off the anti-trust hook was approved by the majority of commissioners, there are signs that there is an enough support against the deal to require a re-think. A third of the members of the European Commission opposed the EU's decision to strike a deal with Google and end a three-year antitrust investigation.

Nine commissioners were against the idea, and while that is not enough to block the agreement struck by Joaquin Almunia, the competition commissioner, it is rare for such strong opposition to be voiced and it will fuel the frustration of Google competitors such as Microsoft.

Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said the opposition sparked a long debate which showed there are a lot of concerns and questions. It was clear that “we haven't finished our work on this subject." The EU has officially said it would accept Google's proposal to display rival links on Internet search results more prominently, calling them significant concessions which had allayed competition concerns. The deal means Google avoids a fine of up to $5 billion.

The deal will be formally approved in the coming months. The EU executive typically decides by consensus or by a simple majority vote. The fact has not been universally loved is a sign though that Google might not get off the hook that easily.

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