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Decision in EU Google antitrust case postponed to next Commission's term

Decision in EU Google antitrust case postponed to next Commission's term

The matter will be handed over to the next Commission in November

A European antitrust probe into Google's search practices will be extended through October, into the term of the next European Commission, a Commissions spokesman said.

The probe into Google started in 2010 when competitors complained that Google favored its own services in search results, reducing the visibility of results from competing sites. For the last four years Google has been negotiating a deal with the Commission to mitigate concerns.

The Commission came to terms with Google in February. However, Joaquín Almunia, the European Commission vice president in charge of competition, declared during the weekend that he will seek more concessions than the company has granted to date, apparently affected by the strong blowback to the proposed settlement. He didn't set a time frame for the decision.

On Wednesday, though, Almunia said that he won't be able to manage to close the investigation within his term, his spokesman said, confirming media reports. Almunia made the remarks at the Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium in Washington.

That means that the matter will be handed over to his successor. That will almost certainly be Danish politician Margrethe Vestager, who was presented as the choice to become the next competition commissioner by Commission president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker. Her appointment still has to be approved by the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament before she can take the reins on Nov. 1.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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