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Does Europe Have the Power to Kill the Google/DoubleClick Deal?

I must admit, international anti-trust law is not one of my strengths, so perhaps someone could explain to me how the merger of two U.S. companies could come under the rule of the European Union?

BEUC, backed by consumers in Germany, Italy and Spain, has urged the competition commissioner Neelie Kroes to investigate the deal, arguing in a letter seen by the Guardian that it “may have a negative impact on the selection of online content available to consumers and on privacy”. The US federal trade commission is already investigating on similar grounds.

If Ms Kroes finds that the deal is in breach of European regulations, she could quash the takeover or force Google to divest large parts of its business.

So, I get that Google is dominant in Europe and has operations there, but does it make sense that the deal could be effected by the grumblings of a few European countries – especially when you consider that Europe’s not exactly in love with Google.

  • http://www.vitabase.com Greg Howlett

    It is interesting that other countries sometimes try to assert authority over the US in this way. I believe it was a Brazilian court that ordered YouTube shut down. I would guess these gestures are symbolic and intend to make a point, because their authority extends only to the business a company actually does within their country. In the case of Europe, they probably think the threat of banning Google is enough to make Google reconsider.

  • http://bushidoblog.com.ar Bushido

    Isn’t Ask.com owned by Google? Isn’t Ask.com european? Might have something to do with it?
    Not really sure…

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Bushido, Ask.com is owned by IAC.

  • http://andybeard.eu/ Andy Beard

    If I was ever to sue Google for something, I would do it here in Poland ;)

    Google has offices all over the world, and much of their operations do not take place in the US.

    Just as European car manufacturers have to comply to US regulations, the same is true of US companies in Europe.

  • http://www.webmaster-money.org Webmaster Money

    I am not surprised. Internet is world wide and webmasters are also worldwide so advertisers also. So when two any big companies join than the third company must be scared. There are no borders in Internet. So I understand this behaviour and I think EU could do something about it.

  • http://www.eyefall.co.uk/blog Ciaran

    I seem to remember that the EU were also involved in the Microsoft/Netscape case all those years ago.

    I know you’ve been in the States for a while Andy, but the EU is quite big now, and this deal could potentially effect millions of European consumers.

    All the EU can do (I believe) is rule on the consequences of this deal in Europe, but Google probably makes enough of its profits in this part of the world for them to pay attention.

    As an add-on to this comment, I should add that I have no strong feelings about the deal itself, but can see the validity of the EU action.

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