Google is close to finding a solution with the European Commission regarding its online search practices, thus putting an end to an investigation into abuse of dominant position. It seems that by the end of the January 2013, the internet giant will hand in a document notifying its commitments to address the EU executive's concerns on its commercial practices - which led it to open an investigation in November 2010.

Last July, Google made proposals, which did not meet with the Commission's approval. In September, Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia threatened to move from the current stage - discussions in view of an amicable settlement - to sending a statement of objections, which would lead to a long legal battle and to substantial financial sanctions unless the US firm made further concessions. More recently, the commissioner recalled that he expected better. Alumunia's tone changed quite noticeably following an interview, on 18 December 2012 in Brussels, with Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt. "We have substantially reduced our differences regarding possible ways to address" EU competition concerns, Almunia said. The Commission has four concerns: the preferential treatment of Google's vertical search services specialised in a specific field (travel or restaurants); the copying of competitor vertical research services, such as user comments; Google's exclusivity agreements, which...

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