After 3 years, Google clinches EU anti-trust deal


Google has reached a settlement to close a three-year European Union antitrust case after it offered further concessions regarding the display of search results.

The internet giant has been at the centre of a probe since November 2010 after almost 20 companies accused Google of promoting its own services at their expense.

Google was being investigated over allegations that the company had pushed its own services such as Google News, copied competitors' content such as restaurant reviews, and signed deals with websites which distorted competition in the advertising industry.

To avoid a lengthy prosecution and a possible fine of up to $5 billion , the California-based technology giant offered a series of concessions to the EU authorities.

(Read more: Google earnings: adjusted EPS $12.01 on $16.86 billion revenue)

"I believe that the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the Commission's concerns," EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

Georges Gobet | AFP | Getty Images

" Without preventing Google from improving its own services, it provides users with real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way; it is then up to them to choose the best alternative."

Under the settlement, Google will have to highlight when its own services are being promoted as well as display prominent links and logos to three rival search services.

Google has also proposed to allow third parties to opt out from the use of their content in the company's search services without impacting their ranking in Google's general search results.

The internet giant also removed a requirement that forces publishers to use Google exclusively for online search advertisements, and prevented them from using rivals such as Yahoo! or Microsoft's Bing search tool.

EU 'testing' Google's proposals: Almunia

Google was not available for comment.

(Read more: Samsung bows to Google to dial back Android tweaks)

While the offer is not completely finalised, Almunia said he would send a letter to 18 complainants explaining the European Commission's position, before offering a formal decision on Google's concessions.

This is not Google's first run in with EU regulators. Google's Motorola Mobility unit, which is being bought by Lenovo for $2.91 billion, got an EU antitrust complaint last year when it sought a legal injunction against Apple for patents that are key for products to comply with industry standards.

Google could also face another EU probe into the way it uses its Android operating system on smartphones.

—By CNBC's Arjun Kharpal: Follow him on Twitter @ArjunKharpal