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E.U. Antitrust Chief Sets the Clock on Google Talks E.U. Antitrust Chief Sets the Clock on Google Talks

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Congress

E.U. Antitrust Chief Sets the Clock on Google Talks

June 8, 2012

Google has until the beginning of next month to indicate to the European Union's top antitrust official that it is willing to negotiate remedies to allegations of anti-competitive business practices, or else face a formal complaint and possible fines.

If negotiations don't yield an acceptable remedy, "formal proceedings will continue through the adoption of a Statement of Objections," said E.U. Competition Commissioner JoaquĆ­n Almunia, in a speech Friday at a legal conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

"I want to give the company the opportunity to offer remedy proposals that would avoid lengthy proceedings," Almunia said. "By early July, I expect to receive from Google concrete signs of their willingness to explore this route."

Almunia outlined the E.U. case against Google in a May 21 letter to company Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. In that letter, Almunia alleged that Google was using its dominance in Internet search to favor its own content and services, among other violations.

The E.U. is looking to Google to supply its own remedies. Almunia did not suggest any in his May letter to Schmidt or in his speech. He did suggest he wanted a quick solution, saying, "it is always better to restore competition swiftly in fast-moving markets, provided of course that the companies concerned are ready to seriously address and solve the problems at stake."

"We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission," said a Google spokesperson in an e-mailed statement.

Google is also the subject of an antitrust inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S., and similar probes in South Korea and India.

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