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ICOMP Statement: What’s required for a successful settlement?

“To be seen as a success, any settlement must include specific measures to restore competition and
allow other parties to compete effectively on a level playing field.”

“Any settlement must include explicit acceptance by Google of its dominance and that it has damaged
European businesses through its anti-competitive practices.”

David Wood, ICOMP Legal Counsel

ICOMP is pleased that Google has finally offered proposed actions to address its 90% plus dominant
market share of Europe’s search and search advertising markets. However, we note that this is just the
first step and, as Google’s previous attitude to both voluntary and binding commitments has shown, we
need to be diligent in ensuring that these proposals are both effective and can be closely monitored to
ensure compliance.

There are more than twenty formal complainants in this case from all sides of the online economy,
including ICOMP and a number of its members. We all look forward to assisting the Commission in
assessing Google’s proposed remedies, once they have been made public. However, in the meantime it
is clear that for any settlement based on these proposals to be considered a success there are a number
of criteria that must be satisfied.

In May 2012, Vice President Almunia outlined four areas of concern with Google’s practices and
behaviour. It is clear that each of these must be fully addressed by Google’s proposals and under-pinned
by measures that ensure enforceability and transparency.

In addition, Vice President Almunia has himself publically stated that he believes that Google is
dominant and that “my conviction is they are diverting traffic [to their own service]”[1]. Any settlement
must recognise and include explicit acceptance by Google of this dominance and that its actions as a
dominant player have damaged European businesses through the use of anti-competitive practices.

Almunia has also stated on several occasions that rapidly restoring effective competition, not just ending
anti-competitive practices is his goal. To be seen as a success, any settlement must therefore include
specific measures to restore competition and allow other parties to compete effectively on a level
playing field with Google in the key markets of search and search advertising.

This is essential in order to address not just current unlawful practices but also to ensure that Google is
not allowed to profit from the fruit of its illegal behaviour.

1] As reported by the Financial Times 10th January 2013

photo:Ben Maynard
Ben Maynard
+44 (0)207 300 6299
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