The EU has given Google an extra two weeks to counter charges of abusing its market power in a dozen EU countries and avoid a possible billion-Euro fine.
The European Commission, the EU's competition authority, accused Google in April of distorting its web search results to favour its own shopping service and had originally set a deadline for replying to the charge sheet, or statement of objections, to August 17.
This ultimatum has now been extended until August 31, according to a Google spokesman, after the Commission confirmed that it had accepted the company's request for additional time to reply. Google has already had one extension after being allowed to miss the original July 7 deadline.
"In line with normal practice, the Commission analysed the reasons for the request. As a result, it has granted an extension allowing Google to fully exercise its rights of defence," Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said.
The charges brought by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in April escalated a five-year investigation that Google has tried to settle three times without success.
The Commission can sanction wrongdoers up to 10 per cent of their global turnover, which would mean north of a billion Euros for Google, and the Commission's charge sheet confirms that if found guilty the company could face a fine set at a level sufficient to ensure deterrence.
A source familiar with the matter said Google will not ask for a closed-door hearing to defend its case. Some competition experts said that such events, attended by senior Commission officials and national competition regulators, rarely yield positive results for companies.
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