Google is expected to present the European Commission with details of how it will meet competition concerns later this month.
The focus has shifted to the European Union following the conclusion of a similar investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the US's competition authority. The FTC did not impose any sanctions on Google's main search business when it announced its findings on 3 January.
The Commission is expected to take a tougher line, however. Since it opened its
investigation into an alleged breach of a dominant position in November 2010, the Commission has been in discussions with Google about changes it could make to its search business.
The Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP), which is backed by Microsoft and other companies that filed complaints against Google, said that it was “deeply disappointed” with the FTC's decision.
It said that it was “more important than ever” that the Commission stood firm and insisted on “meaningful remedies that address Google's search bias and fully restore competition in search”.
Although it imposed no sanctions on Google's search operations, the FTC did set conditions on the way that the company makes its patents for mobile phones available to rivals and the way that it enables businesses to move advertising campaigns from Google to other search sites.
Joaquín Almunia, the European commissioner for competition, said that he expected Google to present detailed commitments to address concerns by the end of January.
Almunia held talks with Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, on 18 December and afterwards said that he would continue to work towards reaching agreement with the company that could avoid the imposition of sanctions.
The Commission's concerns relate to the way in which Google's vertical search services are displayed within general search results, the way that Google displays third-party content on its vertical search services, exclusivity agreements for the delivery of Google search advertisements on other websites, and alleged restrictions in the portability of AdWords advertising campaigns.