Expatica news

EU – Brussels okay for France to bankroll Google rival

   BRUSSELS, March 12, 2008 – The EU’s competition watchdog on Tuesday
approved 99 million euros (152 million dollars) of French state aid for a
consortium to build a European rival to US internet search giant Google.
   The "Quaero" search engine project (Latin for "I search"), involving 23
companies led by French technology giant Thomson, has not yet got off the
ground due to the lack of funding.
   Its estimated costs for the first five year is estimated at 199 million
euros, half of which France — which has championed the idea — has agreed to
   Following an "in-depth examination," the European Commission decided that
the Quaero project "brings positive externalities for the community as a
   However Quaero "is not spontaneously underpinned by the market owing to
divergent interests within the consortium and to uncertainties regarding the
project’s chances of success," the EU’s executive arm said in a statement.
   Any resultant distortions in competition "should be limited," it added.
   "We are confident that the positive contribution the programme will make to
European research will outweigh any distortion of competition caused by the
aid." the EU’s Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said.
   Thomson’s targetted clients for Quaero are internet network operators,
content distributors and film production studios.
   When developed it will be available for personal computers, mobile phones,
televisions and other platforms.
   The project was unveiled with great fanfare in 2005 by then French
President Jacques Chirac as a Franco-German attempt to come up with a
competitor to Google, the US company which has become the pre-eminent web
search engine.
   However in late 2006 some of the German developers left the project,
deciding to work on a "complementary" search engine called "Theseus".
   The Commission last year approved a German aid scheme to Theseus.