Google is merging its two units operating in Europe amid pressure from the European Commission.
Google’s Northern and Central Europe unit will become one division covering Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Financial Times reported today.
The change comes as Google continues to deal with the European Union’s anti-trust probe into its business practices and a recent vote by the European Parliament to separate search engines from commercial businesses.
Although Parliament itself cannot enforce such a law, it is now putting the pressure on the group that can: the European Commission. It is urging the Commission to probe the practices of search engines to “prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines.”
In essence, the resolution suggests splitting Google’s search engine operations in Europe from the rest of the company to end its “monopoly” of the market.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, began probing Google’s search methods in November of 2010 after receiving a number of complaints from companies that allege the technology firm rigs search results in its favor.
The search engine giant’s tentative settlement with the European Commission fell through last year after European Union regulators asked Google for more concessions in September.
Now it is up to newly-appointed European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to handle the issue.
Vestager, who took over from Joaquin Almunia at the beginning of November, said she planned to examine the opinions of parties involved in the case and check on the latest developments in the sector before taking any action.
She added that the investigation would only be about competition issues despite pressure from critics that it should be expanded to include data privacy and media pluralism.
If European Union regulators are not satisfied with Google’s next round of concessions, the company could be slapped with a $5-billion fine.