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EU set to announce Google action
Observer Online Desk
Published : Wednesday, 15 April, 2015,  Time : 1:55 PM,  View Count : 20
The European Union is expected to set out later the action it will take against Google over alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

Its competition commissioner is likely to outline her intentions against the search giant following a five-year EU investigation into the company.

Reports suggest Margrethe Vestager will issue a "statement of objections".

That would escalate a process that could ultimately lead to billions of euros of fines.

But Google told employees on Tuesday that it had a "very strong case" and is expected to defend itself robustly in what could become one of the most contentious antitrust cases since the EU took on Microsoft 10 years ago.

The Commission is responding to complaints that Google, which accounts for more than a 90% of EU-based web searches, favours its own products in search engine results.

The company has yet to respond formally.

'Preferential treatment'


The European Commission has investigated the antitrust allegations - made by Microsoft, Tripadvisor, Streetmap and others - since 2010.

They object to the fact that the firm places reviews from Google+, directions from Google Maps, music and videos from YouTube, and adverts from its Adwords platform ahead of others' links in relevant searches.

"At the core must be the fundamental principle that Google must not abuse its power in general online search to give preferential treatment to its own separate services," Icomp, a lobbying group representing the complainants, said earlier this year.

If Google takes the view that users are best served by search results that integrate additional services, Google must choose the services that benefit consumers most, even if the services are not its own."

Last year, Google agreed to alter the way it displayed its search results, but the changes it suggested were deemed to be insufficient.

The previous competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, asked the company to come up with a new plan.

He left his post without resolving the matter, and was criticised by some politicians for not having taken a firmer stance.

Legal requirement

Ms Vestager, his successor, may take a tougher line by issuing a "statement of objections".

This involves sending a letter that sets out all the objections the commission can base its final decision on, and is a legal requirement, providing Google an opportunity to respond before action is taken.

Google could face huge fines and be ordered to reshape its business in Europe.

In recent years, the Commission has imposed antitrust penalties on other tech giants, ordering Intel to pay 1.1bn euros (£793m; $1.2bn) in 2009 and Microsoft 516m euros in 2013.

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