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Parliamentary questions
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13 May 2019
Answer given by Ms Vestager on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-001336/2019

The Commission is aware of and will look into the changes recently rolled out by Google in the way it displays its local search results within its general search results page.

At this stage, it is too early to draw any conclusions with regard to the effects of these changes. However, it is clear that Google grants greater visibility to links to rivals than it proposed to do in the 2014 commitments.

For instance, on mobile devices, links to rivals are now displayed on the top of the search results, before Google’s own local search results. In 2014, Google proposed to display links to rivals below its own local search results, hereby reducing the chance of customers clicking on the former.

The Commission continues to investigate Google's conduct as regards the alleged more favourable treatment of Google's specialised search services other than comparison shopping, including local search.

The Commission’s Decision in case AT.39740 — Google Search (Shopping) sets a precedent which establishes a framework for the Commission’s analysis of other similar cases, but services need to be investigated on a case by case basis, as markets differ in many respects. Before such differences are well understood, it is not possible to conclude on the adequacy and proportionality of a specific model or practice.

The recently adopted Platform-to-Business Regulation aims to increase transparency and competition in online platform ecosystems, including online search engines, which will be required to indicate the main criteria used to determine how goods and services are ranked in search results.

Issues around ranking and differentiated treatment will also be at the core of the investigation work of the Online Platform Observatory set up in 2018 C(2018) 2393 final.

Last updated: 13 May 2019Legal notice