BRUSSELS — Google, facing the prospect of formal antitrust charges stemming from an investigation in Europe into its search and advertising business, sent a letter Monday to European regulators in an effort to settle the case and avoid a lengthy and potentially expensive dispute.
The regulators declined to reveal what was in the letter.
A Google spokesman, Al Verney, said the company had ‘‘made a proposal to address the four areas the European Commission described as potential concerns.’’
Joaquin Almunia, the commissioner to whom the letter was sent, said in May that the company might have abused its dominance in Internet searching by displaying links to its own services, like Google maps or images, when it answered a query, preferring them over those of competitors. He also said Google had included material in its own search results that was copied from competitors’ websites that offer services like restaurant guides and travel advice.
Two other areas of concern involved how Google conducted its advertising business, including how it delivered search ads on partner sites.
Some question whether Google has abused its dominance in Internet searching when answering users’ queries.
At that time, Almunia told the company to propose changes in a matter of weeks to its methods of answering search queries, or to face formal objections.
Antitrust experts said the company would be extremely wary of giving away too much at this stage, partly because of the ramifications for its business beyond Europe, where regulators could take what Google offers as a starting point for their own demands.
The company is also under antitrust investigation in the United States, Korea, and India.
Almunia’s request for settlement terms from Google was a rare gesture by the commission, which is seeking to speed up resolution of antitrust cases, particularly in the fast-changing technology marketplace where proposed remedies often rapidly lose their relevance.
In previous antitrust cases in Europe involving Microsoft and Intel, the investigations ran for about a decade before the commission finally ordered changes to their business practices.
If Almunia accepts a settlement offer from Google, the company would avoid a possible fine of up to 10 percent of its annual global revenue.