EU Competition Round-up

February 25, 2010

The EU Commission has officially approved the merger between Microsoft and Yahoo!. In a statement, the Commission indicated its approval of ‘the proposed acquisition of the internet search and search advertising businesses of Yahoo! Inc. by Microsoft …The Commission concluded that the concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it. In the EEA, Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s activities in internet search and online search advertising are very limited with combined market shares generally below 10%. Google, by contrast, generally enjoys market shares above 90%.’ The Commission also examined the potential impact of the merger on internet search users, advertisers, online publishers and distributors of search technology. They were supportive of the deal seeing no negative effects on competition or on their business but an anticipated increase in competition by allowing Microsoft to become a stronger competitor to Google.

Microsoft have announced that they will issue the special Windows update which will provide users with a choice of browser on 1 March. The update is the result of the long-running investigation by the European Commission into the anti-competitive effect of Internet Explorer being bundled with all Windows systems. Read ‘Microsoft: Unbundling the Browser’ by Stephen Hornsby and Owen Thomas for the background. There’s more from Microsoft on this at

A Google blog at has revealed that the EU Commission has notified Google that it has received complaints from three sources. The price comparison site Foundem, a French legal search engine and Ciao! from Bing have all complained to the effect that Google is abusing its dominant position. The European Commission confirmed that it had received three complaints against Google that it was looking into. It has not opened a formal investigation: ‘As is usual when the Commission receives complaints, it informed Google earlier this month and asked the company to comment on the allegations,’ it said. As mentioned above, Google is said to have 90% of the search market across the EU. Foundem had claimed that Google could ‘arbitrarily penalise rivals and systematically favour its own services’ and that it retained the ability to insert its own services into prominent positions within its natural search results which ‘poses an immediate threat to healthy competition and innovation’.