(Adds Google, lobby group comments, details)
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - European Union regulators will not finish a four-year investigation into Google by the end of October, the bloc’s outgoing antitrust chief said on Wednesday.
European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said this week he would extract more concessions from the world’s most popular Internet search engine after extremely negative feedback from rivals such as Microsoft to Google’s third proposal to end the EU probe. [ID:nL5N0R946Z}
“For sure this will not be concluded before the end of October,” Almunia told a conference organised by Georgetown University on Wednesday. He is scheduled to leave office next month and will be succeeded by former Danish economy minister Margrethe Vestager.
Google spokesman Al Verney said: “We continue to work with the European Commission to resolve the concerns they have raised.”
Google’s rivals across Europe, which have accused Google of squeezing them out in online search results and making it difficult for advertisers to switch to rival platforms, welcomed Almunia’s comments that the investigation would continue until after he leaves.
“The new Competition Commissioner-designate should issue a statement of objections and undertake a process that enables Google to defend itself, but to do so in an open way that enables complainants to see and address Google’s defences,” said lawyer Thomas Vinje of technology lobby group FairSearch.
Five of the lobby group’s members - Microsoft, price comparison sites Foundem and Twenga, online travel site Expedia and TripAdvisor - have taken their grievances to the Commission. (Reporting by Diane Bartz, writing by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Susan Thomas)