On Wednesday April 1st, the European Union and their main division for handling antitrust cases, the European Commission, are getting ready to file a case against Google Inc. over antitrust laws. According to The Wall Street Journal and sources that are familiar with the matter of the EU’s plans, the case could happen as early as a few weeks from now as the Eu’s new anti-trust chief Margrethe Vestager not only looks to advance the investigation and the process for the case in as little time as possible, but Vestager also believes that the case needs to move forward without a settlement as she favors formal charges in antitrust cases as opposed to settlements that resolve the issues, a process having been tried three times with no success by the EU’s previous antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia.
Even if the EU moves ahead with pressing charges against Google, the search company could still end up coming to an agreement and resolve the EU’s concerns over unfair competition practices with a settlement. Although no formal confirmations have been made that the EU is actually going to file charges, according to antitrust experts, regulators have been recently requesting the ability to publish previously redacted documents over formal complaints made against Google by those companies, which reportedly includes companies from within the travel, shopping and local industries. The act of these requests is being pegged as a first step to preparing the case.
If the EU ends up taking Google to court over these matters, it would mark the European Union’s biggest case surrounding antitrust laws since they previously filed charges against Microsoft which was submitted back in June of 2004. If the charges are brought against Google, they would have a full 90 days to argue against the case and prove their innocence and that they haven’t violated any antitrust laws. If Google feels the need, they could also choose present their case in front of the European Commission in an attempt to perhaps overturn the charges or they could propose a settlement in hopes to close the case, but if Google is found in violation of the EU’s antitrust laws, then they could end up paying a fine totaling up to $66 billion which is about 10% of its annual revenue from 2014.