Google Targeted as EU Weighs Call to Split Web-Search Providers – Bloomberg

European Union lawmakers seeking to
combat what they consider anti-competitive behavior by Google
Inc. (GOOG)
are weighing a call to split up companies that focus on Web
search, according to a document prepared by members of the
European Parliament.

One draft obtained by Bloomberg News asks regulators to
tackle what it says are abusive practices by the Internet search
provider. The European Commission should “consider proposals
with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial
services” to aid Europe’s digital industry, according to
another version of a draft resolution prepared by members of the
European People’s Party, which didn’t specifically mention
Google.

Google, which has more than 90 percent of the search market
in many European countries, is facing threats to its business,
including a possible Internet copyright levy, that add to a
lengthy EU antitrust investigation into allegations that it
discriminates against rivals. Lawmakers Andreas Schwab and Ramon
Tremosa earlier this week called for legislation if the EU can’t
resolve its probe.

“The possibility of this happening is slim to none at this
point, we will have to see what they are proposing,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group LLC. “Many
Europeans are disappointed that a European champion hasn’t
emerged in any way to upend Google and to offer any meaningful
challenge.”




Photographer: Freya Ingrid Morales/Bloomberg

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief who took office on Nov. 1, said last week she needed “some time to decide on the next steps” in the investigation and would consult those directly affected by Google’s practices. Close

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief who took office on Nov. 1, said last week… Read More

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Photographer: Freya Ingrid Morales/Bloomberg

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief who took office on Nov. 1, said last week she needed “some time to decide on the next steps” in the investigation and would consult those directly affected by Google’s practices.

Next Steps

Lawmakers from the EPP and liberal groups plan to ask the
entire assembly to vote on Nov. 26 on the resolution. The final
draft of their text must still be negotiated. While the version
citing Google doesn’t specifically ask for Google to be broken
up, it does ask regulators to “act decisively on all concerns”
given Google’s high market share.

The draft urges EU antitrust regulators to agree only to
concessions by the company that “immediately and
unequivocally” prevent it from discriminating against rivals.
It also asks for users to be shown search results that are
“best for them, rather than best for Google.”

The document says the EU should send antitrust objections
to the company, a move that can lead to fines unless there’s a
settlement.

Niki Christoff, a spokeswoman for Mountain View,
California-based Google, declined to comment. The European
Commission declined to immediately comment.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief who took
office on Nov. 1, said last week she needed “some time to
decide on the next steps” in the investigation and would
consult those directly affected by Google’s practices. While
Google has made several attempts to settle the EU’s four-year
probe, the EU hasn’t deemed any of its proposals acceptable.

The draft text calling for splitting up search companies
was reported yesterday by the Financial Times.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Aoife White in Brussels at
awhite62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Anthony Aarons at
aaarons@bloomberg.net;
Pui-Wing Tam at
ptam13@bloomberg.net
Reed Stevenson, Stephen West

Google Targeted as EU Weighs Call to Split Web-Search Providers – Bloomberg

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