BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union regulators are keeping their options open as to whether to sanction Google (GOOGL.O) for abusing its market power or settle the long-running case with the company, Europe’s chief competition regulator said on Wednesday.
The comments by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager came as her officials reviewed Google’s response to EU charges laid out in April and waited for feedback from more than a dozen complainants.
The European Commission has accused the world’s most popular Internet search engine of favoring its shopping service in delivering search results at the expense of rivals.
Vestager said she had made no final decision.
“At this time it’s still open as to how it will end. It can take different routes, there is no decision yet on our side at least as to how it should end,” Vestager told reporters.
Vestager can either fine the company up to $6.6 billion euros and order it to stop its anti-competitive business practices or give it the opportunity to change its practices without any sanction or finding of wrongdoing.
Google has said a fine would be inappropriate because of the unusual nature of the case and its willingness to head off charges with the offer of concessions to Vestager’s predecessor last year. It said the charges have no legal or economic basis.
Vestager also said on Wednesday the EC’s antitrust case against Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) was still far from complete.
“There’s no conclusion there yet, we are not even close to a conclusion there yet,” Vestager said.
The Russian state-controlled gas giant submitted a package of concessions in September in a bid to head off charges of overcharging customers in Poland, Hungary and six other countries by up to 40 percent and hindering competitors from entering the market.
The company has met with Commission officials twice but continued to disagree on the issue of excessive prices, people close to the case said.
Reporting by Yun Chee Foo; Writing by Julia Fioretti; editing by Barbara Lewis, Greg Mahlich