Google has been charged by the EU with breaking competition rules by favouring its own services on Android.

The US tech giant was issued with formal antitrust charges over claims that it abuses the dominant position of its mobile and tablet operating system.

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference that Google had harmed both competitors and consumers by requiring mobile manufacturers and operators to preinstall some of its own apps – and setting some, such as Google Search, as default or exclusive options on certain gadgets.

She told reporters: "A competitive mobile internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe.

"Based on our investigation thus far, we believe that Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players, in breach of EU antitrust rules.

"These rules apply to all companies active in Europe."

Google responded with a statement that Android was "good for competition and good for consumers".

Its senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker said: "Android has helped foster a remarkable and, importantly, sustainable ecosystem, based on open-source software and open innovation.

“We look forward to working with the European Commission."

Google, which has been given 12 weeks to respond, could face a fine and the prospect of having to amend its approach to products and services.

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