Europe’s antitrust regulator is asking Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to make what could be fairly widespread changes to its mobile services as talks to settle an investigation against the company enter their final days. Google has reportedly submitted revised proposals to the European Commission after facing pressure to answer complaints about its business practices.
While EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia favors reaching a settlement, Google may face formal charges, and multibillion-dollar fines, if it does not make concessions and talks break down, according to the Financial Times.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Almunia have had several rounds of talks in the past month, with the former denying any wrongdoing. The commissioner is expected to decide next week whether talks are worth continuing. Officials have also asked rivals who had first complained against Google to provide non-confidential versions of information they earlier submitted in the two-year investigation. This is a procedural step taken when preparing a charge sheet, and may be a move to put further pressure on Google.
While the exact substance of the EU’s demanded changes is not known, they address four main Commission concerns. The Commission is worried that Google favors its own products in search results; “copies” content from rivals without permission; shuts out competition with its advertising agreements with other websites, and restricts advertisers from moving online ad campaigns to rival search engines.
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