EU: Competition Commissioner met Google chief Schmidt

That's it. We're not telling you any more...

The European Commission is remaining tight-lipped about what was said in a meeting yesterday between Google supremo Eric Schmidt and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

A Commission spokesman would only confirm that the meeting had taken place, but would not reveal the substance. But that hasn’t stopped rampant speculation.

“We are sure many would like to be a fly on the wall at Mr Schmidt’s immensely significant and intriguing meeting with Commissioner Vestager,” said the iCOMP group, which represents opponents of Google.

The search monster has been under investigation by Brussels for alleged abuse of dominance for more than four years and Vestager is under pressure to indicate what will happen next. Her predecessor, Joaquin Almunia, wanted to reach an agreement that would keep all parties happy, but that proved impossible. Vestager must now decide whether to continue with the discussions or slap a fine on the Chocolate Factory.

iCOMP suggested in its latest blog that the meeting was so significant that it could put Schmidt’s job on the line: “Schmidt has a lot riding on this meeting; after all, his last bonus, totalling $106m, was awarded for his 'financial contribution' to the company."

Microsoft-backed iCOMP was set up to represent the complainants in the Google case. The organisation claimed that thousands of European businesses have suffered from Google’s methods of doing business.

Google stands accused of using its dominant position in the European search market to impose restrictive contracts on advertisers, preventing them from switching ads to other search engines and in driving traffic to its own services at the expense of rivals. If Vestager decides not to pursue a so-called Article 9 Agreement, her next step would be to issue a Statement of Objections that could eventually lead to a fine of 10 per cent of Google’s annual turnover.

A response from Google had not been received by El Reg at time of publication, but we'll update if we hear more. ®

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