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03/12/2016

EU’s Almunia says up to successor to decide on Android, forex investigations

Innovation & Industry

EU’s Almunia says up to successor to decide on Android, forex investigations

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia [Shutterstock]

Joaquín Almunia, the EU’s outgoing antitrust chief, will not open formal investigations into Google’s mobile operating system Android, nor into banks suspected of rigging the foreign exchange market, but will leave the decisions to his successor.

The Competition Commissioner, who will step down at the end of October, on several occasions had suggested he might launch a case against Android, following several complaints about possible anti-competitive behaviour by Google.

Asked about the possibility of Android, or foreign exchange investigations in the coming two weeks, Almunia told Reuters: “There will be no opening of new cases. No, there is no time. It will be up to the new Commission.”

The 66-year-old Spaniard bowed to pressure last month from Google’s critics, including Microsoft, European publishers and politicians, by scrapping a proposed settlement with the company over its Internet search practices.

Almunia, who in recent weeks opened cases against Ireland and Luxembourg over their tax deals with Apple, Amazon and Fiat, and expanded a biofuel probe, said late on Wednesday (16 October) there were no new investigations in the pipeline.

Margrethe Vestager, Denmark’s former economy minister, who will take over from Almunia in November, told a European Parliament hearing this month that she hoped the Google search probe would not be prolonged.

Almunia’s decision to leave the timing of a foreign exchange investigation to Vestager suggests the Commission will lag bheind other global regulators in taking action against suspected rigging and collusion in the world’s biggest marketplace.

Britain’s financial watchdog is now in settlement talks with UBS, Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan and Citi on similar issues.

Timeline

  • 1 Nov.: New Commissioners to take office.