BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google Inc has been given until mid-August to head off EU charges of abusing its market power in a dozen EU countries and stave off a possible billion-euro fine.
The European Commission in April accused Google of distorting search results to favour its shopping service, hurting both rivals and consumers.
“We have asked the European Commission for additional time to review the documents they’ve provided us. The Commission has extended our response deadline to Aug. 17,” Google spokesman Al Verney said.
The company was earlier told to respond by July 7, sources told Reuters. Neither the company or the EU competition authority had given the first deadline, but Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso confirmed the extra time given to Google.
“Google asked for additional time to review the documents in the case file,” he said.
In its charge sheet to the company seen by Reuters, the Commission said it would “set the fine at a level sufficient to ensure deterrence” if Google was found guilty.
It said the penalty would be based on Google’s Adwords revenue generated from European users, gross turnover from its comparison shopping service in the 12 EU countries and gross revenue from queries on Google search.
The EU enforcer said Google’s dominance in Europe, excluding the Czech Republic, dated from 2007. Its alleged abuse started in Britain and Germany in January 2008, in France in October 2010, and in Italy, the Netherlands and Spain in May 2011.
The suspected infringement in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Poland and Sweden dated from November 2013, the EU document showed.
Google made three failed attempts to settle the case with the previous EU antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, in the last two years, which would have meant no finding of infringement nor any sanction.
Editing by Adrian Croft and David Holmes