BRUSSELS — The European Union says Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) must in “a matter of weeks” outline steps it is willing to take to ease concerns about alleged abuses of its dominant position in the online search market.
However, Google said it disagrees with the European Commission’s initial conclusions.
Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, said that the company is “happy to discuss any concerns they might have” over allegations that the company discriminated against rivals.
EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia said Monday that after a 1 ½ year investigation it had pinpointed specific areas of concern and insisted the problems needed to be dealt with swiftly.
- Google promotes its own specialist “vertical” search services
- Google copies rival content including travel and restaurant reviews
- Google contracts with software developers prevent ads from being moved to different services.
“I am today giving Google an opportunity to offer remedies to address concerns we have already identified,” Almunia said. “Any final proposal by Google will be market tested before it’s made legally binding by the commission.”
He said that “these fast moving markets would particularly benefit from a quick resolution of the competition issues identified.”
The concerns center on how Google deals with its search results, how content is used and how advertising is run on its search engine.
While Microsoft Corp. and partner Yahoo! Inc. have about a quarter of the U.S. Web-search market, Google has almost 95 percent of the traffic in Europe, Microsoft said in a blog post last year, citing data from regulators.
Regulators in 2010 started investigating claims that Google discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting rival ads.
(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)