The European Commission said Wednesday it reached an agreement in principle with Google that could end its antitrust investigation of the tech giant.
The deal, under which Google offered to display results from search rivals, would let the California-based company avoid paying a huge fine.
"I believe that the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the commission's concerns," European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia, who is in charge of regulating competition, said.
The antitrust probe of Google's search business started in November 2010.
Competitors and other parties will have the opportunity to weigh in on the case before the European Commission makes a final decision on whether to accept the offer made by Google.
Google offered to display the results of three rival search services selected by an objective method whenever someone makes a query on its Web site.
"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. This way, both Google and its rivals will be able and encouraged to innovate and improve their offerings," Almunia said.
The European Commission continues investigating other areas of Google's business, such as the patents held by its Motorola unit and its Android operating system, Almunia said.
The tech giant plans to make "significant changes" to the way it operates in Europe, Google general counsel Kent Walker said in a statement. EFE