Google Faces More Antitrust Trouble in Europe

Just days after U.K. consumers were granted the right to take Google to court over privacy issues, the European Union (EU) has announced that Google could soon face antitrust charges brought by European competitors.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that sources close to Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s new antitrust chief, say she is planning to move the case forward very soon.

The European antitrust case against Google has been ongoing since 2010, when European shopping, travel, and local companies alleged that Google uses its prominent position in online search across Europe to drive users to its own sites and services, pushing competition to the bottom of search results where they’re less likely to be seen. Google is also accused of restricting access to search from many EU businesses that would like to do business with Google, which is currently responsible for 90 percent of online searches in Europe.

The case will be heard by an EU commission, which acts as judge and jury in antitrust matters, and will be eligible for appeal by a separate court in Luxembourg. If charges are filed, Google has three months to prove that it didn’t violate European antitrust laws or to offer a settlement to accusers.

Google has been close to European antitrust settlements in the past. In both 2012 and 2013, the company proposed antitrust settlement to resolve the case. Under EU law, if Google loses the antitrust case, the company could be fined up to 10 percent of its profits, which came to $66 billion last year.

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