BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's antitrust watchdog is increasing pressure on Google to swiftly provide better proposals to address allegations the firm is abusing its dominant position in Internet searches.
If the U.S. tech giant fails to present better proposals to reach a settlement, the EU will start the traditional antitrust procedure, the EU's competition watchdog chief Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday. That more confrontational route could take years, but also result in fines worth billions of dollars.
Competitors in Europe have complained about the way it gives preference to its own Google-branded services at the top of results pages, especially when consumers are likely to be searching for something to buy.
Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., has offered to more clearly label search results stemming from its own services to allow users to distinguish between natural search results and those promoted by Google.
In its second round of proposals in October, Google's main concession was to offer competitors the chance to advertise their own services and brand in the second row of search results, below the Google-branded result.
Competitors led by Microsoft, but also including European consumer organizations, said that would only mean more costs for them and more dominance for Google. They argue the company should not give undue preference to any company in the search results.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has already investigated Google in a similar case and in January decided not to file charges.
Follow Juergen Baetz on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz