Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Here’s the Strict New Timetable for the EU’s Investigation of Google: “One Day, I Don’t Know When”

Joaquín Almunia, the European Commission’s head of competition, said today at a press conference that he’s not ready to finish the EC’s antitrust examination of Google, but he’s still working on it “intensively.”

On both sides of the Atlantic, the government agencies that have conducted antitrust examinations of Google over the past two years seem to have trouble keeping their own timetables.

The funny thing is that all of this is entirely self-imposed. Almunia, for instance, said in May that Google had just “a matter of weeks” to offer remedies. It’s clearly more than a few weeks later.

The latest news from Europe is a vague push-back on that timing. Almunia said today, “On our side, this process of conversations with Google to try to reach a settlement agreement … we are not yet there but we work quite intensively. So one day, I don’t know when, I will come here to tell you how these conversations have been concluded.”

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is less public and press-conferency about its demands, but there have also been widely reported timing ultimatums.

The FTC would like to close the investigation before the end of the year, and the time crunch is quite obvious because one commissioner’s replacement has already been nominated and Chairman Jon Leibowitz has widely known plans to step down himself. In November, Leibowitz had also given Google a couple weeks to respond with a settlement offer before calling for a vote on a formal complaint. That deadline has passed, too.

One question is whether the FTC and the EC will stumble their way into a jointly coordinated timeline. Almunia and Leibowitz met on Monday to discuss that. Almunia said today, “Our services are working in very good coordination.”

As for Google, it’s getting very used to saying the same thing. A spokesperson for the company today reiterated, “We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission and are happy to answer any questions they may have.”

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