The EU competition commissioner is expected to unveil a raft of measures designed to curtail the operations of Google, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of all searches on the continent, after concluding a five year investigation into alleged uncompetitive behaviour.
Margrethe Vestager will detail her response later today but it is expected to include a ‘statement of objections’ outlining ways in which it reportedly favours its own businesses over those of competitors in its search results.
The letter is a legal requirement, allowing Google to make its case, before any action is taken – such as massive fines and/or a mandatory re-shaping of its European operations.
It will focus on complaints from the likes of Microsoft, Tripadvisor and Streetmap that the firm prioritises reviews from Google+, Google Maps directions, YouTube media content and Adwords ads over those of rival businesses in its rankings.
Commenting on the move lawyer Paul Henty of Charles Russell Speechlys said: "Google is a gatekeeper to different markets, and I think they will want to make an example of it," who has previously worked for the European Commission.
"But I can't see that this will be a fast process given the complexity of the subject matter, what's at stake and the likely level of the fine."
In an attempt to head-off official sanction Google agreed to amend the way it displayed results last year but this failed to win over critics.