EU won't rush to any decisions on Google antitrust investigation

The EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia says the case is "complex" and his office is in no hurry to decide if it should launch a formal antitrust complaint against Google.

Although it has been investigating Google for a considerable amount of time, the European Union's competition office is not ready to decide on the case just yet.

"We are not yet there. This is a complex case," European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said of his office's Google investigation in an interview with Reuters. "We are not in a hurry. We are very serious."

The European Commission launched an investigation into Google's search practices back in November 2010. The investigation followed complaints from search providers, U.K.-based price comparison site Foundem, French legal search service ejustice.fr, and Microsoft-owned U.K. search engine Ciao. Almunia's office said it planned to examine whether Google artificially lowered rankings while boosting its own services.

Since then, a host of companies have come out to level more complaints against Google. Microsoft last year filed a formal complaint against Google, saying that the search giant "has taken to entrench its dominance in the markets for online search and search advertising to the detriment of European consumers." Just last month, TripAdvisor filed a complaint , charging Google with "anticompetitive and unfair practices...that harm the marketplace and consumer welfare."

A decision on the matter could come down at any time. Back in January, Almunia said that he had expected reports from investigators by the end of the first quarter , indicating a decision could come down soon after. In today's interview with Reuters, however, he didn't say when he could make a decision on the investigation and has yet to send Google a statement of objections or charge sheet to get the formal complaint underway.

For its part, Google has said that it will cooperate with any and all regulators. That's probably a good thing: it's currently being investigated in the U.S., as well.

 

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