Google secretly tried to stop the probe into Android a year before its record $5 billion fine from the EU

Margrethe Vestager1


European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

  • The EU's competition watchdog fined Google €4.3 billion ($5 billion) last week for abusing the dominance of its mobile operating system, Android.
  • Google secretly tried to settle with the European Commission a year before the fine was imposed, Bloomberg reports.
  • Google lawyers reportedly started talking to EU counterparts about settling the Android probe in June 2017, after Google had been fined for its shopping service.

Google secretly tried to settle with the EU over its investigation into the Android operating system, Bloomberg reports.

The European Commission hit Google with a €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine last week for abusing the dominance of its mobile operating system.
European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Bloomberg a year before the fine was imposed, Google started quietly trying to resolve the probe.

Google lawyers talked to their EU counterparts about the possibility of a settlement in June 2017, weeks after the company had been fined €2.4 billion for abusing its dominant position to promote its shopping service.

The firm's lawyers were reportedly emboldened by a press conference on June 27, where Vestager refused to rule out a settlement. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that the lawyers drafted a letter in August with suggestions for addressing the EU's concerns.

Google reportedly offered to adjust contracts to loosen restrictions the EU objected to. The letter did not go into detail, however, and just outlined starting points for discussion.

Vestager said Google waited at least a year too long to reach out. She said that if companies wish to settle, they need to get in touch "immediately after" getting the EU's initial complaint or statement of objections."That didn't happen in this case and then, of course, it takes the route that it has now taken," said Vestager told Bloomberg. Consequently, Google's lawyers never received a formal response, and the EU opted for a cease-and-desist letter.

Speaking about the EU's conclusions, Vestager added: "It's a very serious legal infringement and you see how it has worked. It has cemented Google's position in search and it has de-facto locked down Android in a completely Google-controlled ecosystem."

Business Insider has contacted Google for comment.

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