On 1 October 2013, the Commission published a speech by Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission responsible for Competition Policy, informing the European Parliament on the latest facts in its investigation into allegations that Google Inc. (“Google”) has abused a dominant position on the online search market, in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). Mr. Almunia commenced by giving a brief outline of the background of the investigation. The Google investigation was formally opened in November 2010 after complaints by search service providers had been lodged with the Commission. After an in-depth analysis of those complaints, the Commission formally informed Google about its concerns and conclusions in its Preliminary Assessment (“PA”). Four types of business practices that were considered problematic under EU competition rules were set out in the PA. Favorable treatment, within Google’s web search results, of links to Google’s own specialized web search services as compared to links to competing specialized web search services may unduly divert user traffic away from Google's competitors towards Google's own services. Further, the use by Google, without consent, of original content from third party web sites in its own specialized web search services may reduce competitors' incentives to invest in the creation of original content. Furthermore, conditions on publishers, preventing them from displaying search advertisements from Google's competitors on their websites and contractual restrictions on advertisers preventing them from porting and managing their search advertising campaigns across Google's and competing search advertising platforms were found problematic. All of these practices were considered by the Commission to be liable to harm consumers, as they will likely have less choice of innovative services. In April 2013, a market test of the proposed commitments offered by Google was launched. The feedback received was very negative and, therefore, in July 2013, Google was requested to improve its proposal to better address the Commission’s concerns. According to Mr. Almunia, Google has now improved its commitments and therefore he is hopeful that there is a possibility to reach a Commitment decision under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. The commitments proposal addresses more appropriately the need for the commitments to be able to cover future developments by relating to queries in Google in whatever form, whether typed or spoken, and irrespective of the entry point or of whether the device used is static or mobile. As regards the next steps, Google has committed to support its new proposals with empirical data to show their impact. The drafting of the proposed commitment text is to be finalized during the first half of October. The Commission will invite comments on the improved commitments and, if the feedback is positive, a final commitments decision may likely be expected in spring 2014. Source: Commission Press Release 01/10/2013