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Google has another two weeks to counter EU antitrust charges

Google has been given another two weeks to prepare its defence against the European Commission, the media have reported on Friday.

The European Commission has extended the deadline for replying to the charges to August 31 from August 17, NDTV quotes a Google spokesman saying on Thursday.

This is the second extension for the company, which had originally been told to respond to the Commission's charge sheet, or statement of objections, by July 7.

The Commission confirmed that it accepted Google’s request for additional time.

"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 American search engine giant was accused of distorting search results in some European countries, in a way which favours its shopping service.

The company could face a fine set at a level sufficient to ensure deterrence if found guilty, according to the Commission's charge sheet seen by Reuters. The EU antitrust authority can sanction wrongdoers up to 10 per cent of their global turnover, meaning Google could be facing a billion-dollar fine.

The fact that Google has been asking for a second extension is somewhat contradictory, as Google last year said it already had its defences in place.

According to Google General Counsel Kent Walker, in the search market, Google will use old rivals Yahoo and Bing as showings of competitiveness, and new search from Amazon, eBay and travel sites in Germany, France and the UK.