An investigation by Europe’s antitrust head Joaquin Almunia looked at whether Google gave preferential treatment to its own services in its search results.
Mr Almunia said the company must now “offer remedies” swiftly.
“I offer Google the possibility to come up in a matter of weeks with remedies,” said Almunia. “If Google comes up with an outline of remedies which are capable of addressing our concerns, I will instruct my staff to initiate the discussions in order to finalize a remedies package.”
Google wasn’t immediately available to comment.
The EU’s anti-trust chief said it was in the interest of all those involved in the case to reach a “quick resolution” to the four areas of concern he has identified.
The first concern relates to how Google displays links to its own vertical searches for services such as restaurants or news differently to the way it does for links to competitors.
“We are concerned that this may result in preferential treatment compared to those of competing services, which may be hurt as a consequence,” Almunia said.
The second part of the investigation, Almunia said, focused on how Google copies content from competing vertical search services and “uses it in its own offerings…using that material on its own sites without their prior authorization.”
Third, EU regulators want Google to change the deal it strikes with its partners, whereby Google dictates how websites deliver search advertisements. This obliges partners to “obtain all or most of their requirements of search advertisements from Google, thus shutting out competing providers”, and could potentially impact advertising services purchased for example by online stores, online magazines or broadcasters, Almunia said.
Finally, EU anti-trust regulators found that competitors were shut out of Google’s auction-based advertising platform, AdWords, on which advertisers can bid for the placement of search ads on search result pages provided by Google.
The Internet giant will now need to submit an outline of possible remedies to address regulators’ concerns.