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Leaked FTC antitrust report gives EU cover to rule against Google

Loek Essers | March 23, 2015
A leaked report by U.S. Federal Trade Commission staff gives the European Commission political cover to rule against Google as it moves forward with its own antitrust inquiry, sources familiar with the process said.

Meanwhile Vestager, who took office in November, is taking the necessary time to update information in her files and form her own view before deciding on next steps in the case, Commission competition spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an email. She met with Google's chairman Eric Schmidt and other company officials earlier this month to discuss the case.

It is important that the application of competition law in individual cases remains independent from politics and that antitrust procedures are not put into question, Cardoso said, adding that it is the Commission's obligation to respect the rights of all the parties involved.

So far, no deadline for a decision has been set by the Commission. However, the case might soon start moving forward, as complainants were recently asked to allow Google access to secret evidence they gave to the Commission, the source working for one of the complainants said. This probably means that the Commission is preparing a Statement of Objections, the source added.

Such a statement is a formal step in a Commission's antitrust investigation that can lead to the prohibition of specific conduct, as well as to a fine of up to 10 percent of a company's worldwide annual turnover. The preparation of such a statement doesn't mean the Commission will do any of that, but it is a possibility.

 

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