E.U. rejects Google’s latest effort to settle antitrust case

September 9, 2014, 8:55 AM UTC
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia Interview
Joaquin Almunia, competition commissioner for the European Union (EU), speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. Almunia said antitrust regulators will continue to investigate Gazprom following comments that the probe may harm EU-Russia relations. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The European Union has rejected Google Inc’s (GOOG) latest attempts to settle antitrust allegations against it, bringing the threat of financial penalties against it closer.

Joaquin Almunia, the E.U.’s outgoing Competition Commissioner, told Bloomberg TV that regulators at “trying to extract” more concessions from the company to address competitors’ complaints that Google abuses its dominant position in the internet search market to direct users to its own in-house products and services.

Google controls over 80% of the European search market.

And it could get worse yet for Google, as Almunia said that the new Commission would likely open a new case against the Android mobile operating system.

He didn’t provide any more concrete details.

It’s the third time that the Commission has rejected Google’s proposals to settle the claims, and comes as an abrupt change in direction after signs that the two sides would reach an agreement.

Almunia had been keen to show that the E.U. was capable of acting quickly to settle decisions in the fast-moving tech sphere, but ran into fierce opposition not only from Google’s competitors, but, increasingly, from some governments such as Germany’s that are concerned about the extent of its power, according to The Financial Times.

With a whole new Commission now being formed in the wake of European elections earlier this year, the case will now pass to a new Commissioner.

The E.U.’s case against Google has been running now for nearly five years. Under European law, the Commission can impose fines of up to 10% of a company’s global revenue in antitrust cases. In June, Europe’s top court upheld the E.U.’s largest-ever antitrust fine of $1.4 billion, against chip-maker Intel Corp.