EU says likely to ask Google to boost anti-trust offer

The European Commission said on Tuesday that it will probably ask US Internet giant Google to improve the way it intends to satisfy EU concerns over its dominant position in the online search and advertising market.

"We are analysing the measures which Google has submitted," and which have been subject to public comment for the past month, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told the European Parliament's Economics Committee.

This 'market test' period concludes Monday but "following requests by several parties, we have decided to extend it another month, to end June," Almunia said.

After that, "we will proceed to analyse the responses and we will most likely ask Google to improve its submissions," he added.

If Google's revised offers are then found to be satisfactory, the Commission could decide to make them legally binding on the company, he said.

If they are not adequate, then there would be further negotiations with Google, Almunia said, adding that he hoped that there would be a positive outcome, with the issue resolved by the end of the year.

The Commission said last month when it opened the 'market test' procedure that it had four main areas of concern, chief among them being that a search on Google favours results linked to the company's specialised services, such as surveys of restaurants of hotels.

To remedy that issue, Google proposed for a period of five year to make users clearly aware if they were being directed to another Google service.

Brussels launched its investigation of Google in November 2010 following a complaint by several companies, including Microsoft.

A company found at fault in an EU anti-trust probe can face fines of up to 10 percent of its total annual sales.