The European Union on Wednesday filed formal charges against Google for allegedly breaching antitrust rules, opening the door to one of the biggest competition battles since Brussels took Microsoft to task a decade ago.
The charges marked a new phase in a five-year investigation into the U.S. search giant’s practices in Europe, with some arguing the European Commission has already dragged its feet for too long.
“The Commission’s objective is to apply E.U. antitrust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation,” the European Union’s new competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said in a media conference announcing the charges.
Ms. Vestager served the U.S. technology giant a formal charge sheet, called a statement of objections, for abusing its dominance of the Internet search market by, specifically, favoring its own shopping service. If proven, the charges could set a precedent for investigating the company’s other products, she said, noting that dominance in one market could be used “to cheat in others.”
She also announced the launch of a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s Android operating system for smart phones.