The European Union's antitrust watchdog today accepted "far-reaching" concessions offered by Google to settle allegations it is abusing its dominant position in Internet searches, bringing the 3-year-old case close to an end. Google would significantly change the ways it displays some search results in Europe in favor of its competitors. A shopping search for a gas grill, for example, would yield two boxes of the same size and position at the top of the search results page, one showing three "Google shopping results" and immediately to the left of it three results labeled "Alternatives," according to an example provided by the commission.
Reaching a settlement will spare the company a longer antitrust procedure that could have resulted in fines of up to 10% of the company's annual revenue, or about $5 billion. Google's proposals will now be sent to the 18 original plaintiffs for evaluation before the commission makes a final decision in the coming months. The plaintiffs' initial reactions were negative, but EU Antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia says he's "strongly convinced" the deal is sufficient and will be upheld.