Google chief executive Sundar Pichai will meet next week in Brussels with the European Union’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, a source familiar with the matter said Saturday.
European competition officials have been investigating the US tech giant for years over alleged monopolistic practices involving its search engines, but any resolution has been elusive.
Three successive proposals by Google for an amicable settlement have been rejected. Vestager last year sent a “statement of objections,” saying Google had diverted traffic from rival price-comparison services like Kelkoo, which operates in several European countries, to favor its own comparison shopping service. Google responded in late August that Brussels’s findings were “wrong,” and based on a flawed evaluation of the market. If no agreement is reached, and the group is found to have broken the EU’s antitrust rules, it could face fines amounting to billions of dollars.
In addition to the initial inquiry into Google’s search engines, which began in late 2010, the European competition services opened a second one in April to examine the group’s Android mobile operating system. This software, used by a wide range of brands, is installed in more than 80 percent of the world’s smartphones. Pichai became Google’s chief executive officer during a restructuring last year that installed a new holding company, Alphabet, as Google’s parent. Google now focuses on its core businesses (online activity, Android, YouTube) while its peripheral interests (driverless cars) are now overseen directly by Alphabet. –AFP