Google to respond to EU antitrust charges within weeks as fine looms

Lynsey Barber
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Google faces a fine from the EU (Source: Getty)

A long running battle between the EU and Google over anti-competitive behaviour will escalate this month as the search giant is expected to formally respond to the charges in the latest clash between a US tech giant and Brussels.

Google is scheduled to make an official response to charges of being anti-competitive, including its dominance on the Android operating system, in the coming weeks.

But, Brussels is considering a fine against the company, according to Reuters which has seen documents relating to the charges, and which could potentially run into the billions of euros.

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​"We believe that Android has increased competition, lowered prices, and benefited users, developers and phone manufacturers," Google said in a statement on the matter.

"We look forward to showing the European Commission how our approach has made Android a successful and sustainable open-source ecosystem."

In the Android case, the EU argues Google favoured its own search engine on the operating system by forcing handset manufacturers to pre-install the app and also offering financial incentives to do so, claims which Google denies.

The competition commission also claims Google favours its own comparison of shopping products in search results over rival shopping sites in a case finally brought to the charge stage last year after a five year investigation. After the Android charge in April, the EU brought another case against it in July in relation to search advertising results.

The EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager has cracked down hard on tech companies, moving forward much more quickly with cases than her predecessor.

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This has culminated in slapping Apple with a €13bn bll for back taxes after deciding that its so-called sweetheart Irish tax deal broke antitrust laws. Both Apple and Ireland are appealing the decision.

The case has raised tensions between US authorities and Brussels, with officials in the US accusing Europe of unfairly targeting companies across the pond.

Google is expected to respond to charges by the end of October unless it's granted another extension by the commission.

The EU can fine Alphabet-owned Google up to 10 per cent of annual turnover on each charge.

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