London - Google is facing the threat of regulatory sanctions in Europe, with the Continent's competition watchdog signalling a tougher crackdown on the search engine giant only days after it was cleared by a US probe.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ended a long-running investigation into the Californian firm last week by concluding that it was not tweaking its search results in way that might impact rivals companies.

But a separate EU probe has not yet been settled - and on Thursday, the EU Competition Commissioner hinted that it was heading in the opposite direction.

“We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google] is diverting traffic,” Joaquín Almunia said, raising the prospect of tougher action than in the US, where Google made voluntary changes to its practices but was not accused of wrongdoing in the way it runs its search business.

“They are monetising this kind of business, the strong position they have in the general search market and this is not only a dominant position, I think - I fear - there is an abuse of this dominant position,” Mr Almunia told the Financial Times. - The Independent