The EU is expected to formally charge Google on Wednesday with abusing its dominant market position in Europe, taking on the US Internet giant in one of its most high-profile anti-trust cases.
Sources close to the case told AFP that EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will submit the proposal to a European Commission meeting, seeking approval to go ahead after three failed attempts to reach a settlement with Google dating back to 2010.
European Commission spokesman Margaritas Schinas said Vestager would brief the press at midday.
Vestager leaves later Wednesday for the United States where the European Union probe into Google has become politically sensitive as the 28-nation bloc negotiates a massive trade liberalisation accord with Washington.
US critics say the EU is being selective in targeting Google and significantly, the US Free Trade Commission dropped its own probe of the company, saying it had done enough to meet complaints.
If found at fault under EU anti-trust rules, a company faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual sales — in Google’s case, $66 billion in 2014.
EU Digital Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said at the weekend the EU needed “to bring or force Internet platforms and search engines to follow our rules in Europe,” adding that the decision would be made “in coming days”.
If approved, Vestager would announce a formal “statement of objections” against Google, laying out the EU’s case against the company and seeking a response with a view to forcing changes in the way it conducts its business.
Google accounts for about 90 percent of the EU search market.