Google looks set to miss another deadline in EU antitrust case

Competition Commissioner Almunia has still not received an expected settlement proposal

Despite saying in December that talks with Google could not go on forever, the European Union's Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia seems resigned to more waiting.

Almunia laughed as he said at a Wednesday press briefing that "talks were continuing." There is no legal deadline for resolving the antitrust investigation, but in December the commissioner had a meeting in Brussels with Google chief Eric Schmidt and asked his team to provide proposals for a settlement agreement by the end of January.

"Today is the 30th and tomorrow is the 31st, so I can imagine the proposals are flying in," said Almunia. "Possibly by express post," he joked.

A spokesman from Google could likewise confirm only that talks were continuing and said he could not say whether there would be developments in the coming days or weeks.

Google has been under investigation by the Commission since November 2011 after rivals accused the search giant of setting its algorithm to direct users to its own services by reducing the visibility of competing websites and services.

In all, 14 companies have complained about Google including the U.K.-based Foundem; Microsoft-owned German price comparison site Ciao; Dutch football website Elfvoetbal; French companies Dealdujour.pro and Twenga; British online mapping company Streetmap; and online travel sites Expedia and TripAdvisor.

Google controls more than 90 percent of the search market in several European countries.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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