By Dow Jones Business News, September 13, 2013, 07:15:00 AM EDT
The European Union's antitrust authority will take a decision in the coming weeks to either go ahead with a settlement
procedure or step up legal proceedings against Google Inc. after examining the latest proposals from the search company,
the bloc's competition chief said Friday.
"It is my responsibility to ensure that Google doesn't abuse this gatekeeper role in the EU to push its own services
against those of competitors who may be just as innovative," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said, according
to the text of a speech delivered in Florence, Italy.
"Time is of the essence, and in the coming weeks I will take a decision" on whether to turn Google's proposals into
legally binding commitments, or to issue a so-called statement of objections about the company's behavior.
He also said to expect more action in the automotive industry, after the commission found that five Japanese and
European companies had operated a cartel in the supply of parts to several car manufacturers in Europe, including
Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Renault.
"The cartelists received EUR141 million ($187.6 million) in fines and I expect that more decisions in this sector will
follow," he said.
He also promised more antitrust action in the pharmaceutical sector on pay-for-delay agreements, where companies stop
rivals releasing generic versions of their medicines by paying them.
Turning to the telecoms industry, where fellow commissioner Neelie Kroes set out a new regulatory framework for the
industry, he said the completion of a single market for telecommunications services will take time and that his agency
would continue to look at proposed acquisitions along national lines.
"We don't expect market structures to change from one day to the next, and therefore we will likely continue to assess
these mergers on the basis of national markets--at least for some time," he said. "And this is a shame, because a
genuine single market for telecoms would give a much-needed boost to our economy and would help European integration."
This includes the commission--as opposed to German antitrust authorities--reviewing Telefonica Deutschland Holding
AG's purchase of Dutch peer Royal KPN's E-Plus unit, which should be notified to his services "in the coming weeks."
Last month, the head of Germany's Federal Cartel Office, Andreas Mundt, said the deal should be reviewed by German
authorities as it could seriously affect competition.
EU antitrust regulators are already examining Vodafone Group PLC's acquisition of Kabel Deutschland Holding AG; the
U.K. telecom company said late Thursday that more than 75% of Kabel's shareholders had agreed to take its offer. The
commission should pronounce on the combination on September 20.
Write to Frances Robinson at email@example.com
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