Following an antitrust investigation launched in November 2010 into alleged abuse of dominance by Google, on 25 April 2013 the EC announced that the company had offered “commitments” (a type of settlement) aimed at getting the EC to close the case. This announcement started a public consultation period on the settlement proposals, which finishes at the end of this month.

Google’s commitments would alter how it operates its own specialised search services and, in addition, the company would no longer be permitted to: include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google; or impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms. On 28 May 2013, EU antitrust head Joaquín Almunia said that the EC was very likely to ask Google to “improve these proposals”.

Given that Google accounts for more than 90% of general web searches and also has a very high market share in search advertising in most EU countries, it is inevitable that the proposals will impact a significant proportion of businesses in the EU.