Google is currently trying to resolve an antitrust case in Europe over promoted links in its search results. In order to satisfy regulators, Google had offered to separate promoted links from native search results in a bid to end the EU antitrust investigation. The European Commission expressed its concerns over the original proposals and pressed the company to find better alternatives. It appears that Google has now improved its original proposals.
European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia revealed today that Google's offer has improved. "We have reached a key moment in this case," he said to lawmakers in the European Parliament. "Now with the significant improvements on the table I think we have the possibility to work again." Google provided additional concessions in September in an attempt to end the three-year investigation into its search results complaints. Almunia has previously revealed that he keeps lines of communications with Google open in order to resolve the case, even texting Google chairman Eric Schmidt.
The case centers around claims that Google promotes partners in its search results while burying competitor links. FairSearch, a group of organizations that includes Microsoft and Nokia, has been the main opponent in the case, pushing the European Commission to reject Google's previous remedies. Google and the EU have not yet revealed details of the latest proposals publicly, and FairSearch has not commented on their effectiveness. While Microsoft, a key member of FairSearch, has faced its own troubles in the US and Europe, CEO Steve Ballmer recently branded Google a monopoly worthy of discussion with competition authorities. The case continues in the EU, and Almunia now says a decision is expected in spring 2014.