Google seeks to avert long EU probe

The executive chairman of Google is keen to avoid a lengthy battle with the European Union over its inquiry into the search engine giant's dominant position in the market.

Eric Schmidt said the company wants to come to an agreement with the EU over the inquiry, which could take years to conclude and eventually may result in Google facing a substantial fine or tweaks to its software. Mr Schmidt reportedly said he is keen for the European Commission to propose a set of remedies, if this was necessary, which the search firm would consider in detail.

One option could be for Google to change some of its algorithm, although it is strongly opposed to anything that would allow spam sites to appear near the top of its much-vaun-ted search results. His comments appear to contrast with the experience of software rival Microsoft. Following a lengthy battle, the EU fined Microsoft a total of €1.68bn (£1.44bn) and it was only in December 2009 that it was satisfied the firm had made sufficient changes to its "bundled" software packages to allow its EC's anti-trust inquiry to be concluded.