The deal has been in the making for a while now, and the EU is the fist large regulatory body to give the official green light. "We have approved the acquisition [...] because upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues," EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.
However, the potential for patent abuse is here, especially regarding the FRAND (standards essential) patents. There's the danger that Google will use FRAND patents in its defence against Apple's and Microsoft's aggressive patent trolling. While not every use of FRAND patents in lawsuits is anti-competitive (if valid FRAND licensing offers are denied, FRAND patent holders have the right to sue), this concern is still very much valid. The EU agrees.
"This merger decision should not and will not mean that we are not concerned by the possibility that, once Google is the owner of this portfolio, Google can abuse these patents, linking some patents with its Android devices. This is our worry," Almunia said, "We might be obliged to open some cases in the future. This is not enough to block the merger but we will be vigilant."
While I personally believe Alumnia should be more concerned about software patent abuse (Apple) and mafia protection money schemes (Microsoft) and how these practices negatively affect the market and consumers, it's still good know the EU is at least on top of this potential future abuse.
The acquisition is not complete yet - China, the US, and several others have to approve the deal too.