Google is in yet more legal hot water abroad. The European Union became the first government to begin an investigation that could lead to formal antitrust charges against the tech giant. Google has allegedly violated the EU’s antitrust laws for the last seven years by abusing its dominant position in online search. This formal investigation significantly up the stakes in the EU’s legal maneuverings against Google, which has been stuck in limbo for years despite three different efforts to come to a settlement.

Google Hit With Antitrust Charges By EU Regulators

Statement from EU antitrust chief

“Dominance as such is not a problem,” the EU’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, commented at a presser on Wednesday, pointing out that people use Google because it “has very good products.”

“However, dominant companies have a responsibility not to abuse their market position either in the market where they are dominant or in neighboring markets,” she continued. “This is about consumers getting the best possible results of their query.”

Response from Google

Amit Singhal, vice president of Google Search, noted in an online statement that the U.S. tech firm strongly disagrees “with the need to issue a statement of objections and look forward to making our case over the weeks ahead.” Of note, a statement of objections is the official legal name for the antitrust charges being brought by the EU.

More on EU antitrust charges against Google

In their Wednesday statement, EU regulators highlighted their preliminary conclusion that Google “systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits.” This illegal behavior conduct began back in 2008.

The European Commission’s statement noted: “The commission is concerned that users do not necessarily see the most relevant results in response to queries—to the detriment of consumers and rival comparison shopping services, as well as stifling innovation.”

The EC has also begun a separate formal investigation into Google’s business practices with regard to its Android OS for mobile devices.