BRUSSELS, April 15 (Reuters) – The European Union will accuse Google Inc on Wednesday of abusing its dominant position in Internet searches, opening the U.S. tech company up to a risk of massive fines and enforced changes in its business model, the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday.
However, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that a formal antitrust charge sheet will not be ready for Wednesday and could take several more months to draw up. The EU can impose fines of up to 10 percent of global turnover, or more than $6 billion in penalties in Google’s case.
An EU official said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager would make an important announcement about Google on Wednesday, after the EU’s executive holds its weekly meeting.
The Commission’s chief spokesman would not confirm the reports, which cited EU officials, but said there would be a news conference around noon (1000 GMT) after the meeting.
Vestager, who had indicated she would not be rushed into a decision on the five-year-old case, is due to fly to the United States later on Wednesday for a high-profile working visit. Americans, including business leaders and President Barack Obama, have questioned EU efforts to curb the power of U.S. tech companies.
The Danish liberal will accuse Google of breaching competition law by diverting traffic from rivals to favor its own services, said the FT, adding that some fellow commissioners had been concerned Vestager was narrowing the probe.
In an internal memo published by blog Re/code, Google acknowledged the “disappointing news” and said the process would include a back and forth over European Commission concerns that could take a year or two and eventually land in court.
“We have a very strong case, with especially good arguments when it comes to better services for users and increased competition,” the memo said. Google declined to comment or confirm that the memo was genuine… see more