You need to do more, EC tells Google as it rejects proposed search changes

The EC's long-running antitrust investigation into Google's search business in Europe looks set to run some more.

European regulators want to squeeze more changes out of Google in a fresh attempt to finally settle the long-running antitrust investigation into its dominance of the search market in Europe.

With new complaints rolling in over the summer about the proposals Google offered this February , it's now looking less likely that Europe's competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia will get to the finish the four-year investigation he started in 2010 . Previously, Almunia has expressed confidence that Google's third proposal would be sufficient to address the EC's concerns about Google, but it's unpopularity with complainants could leave the proposal in tatters.

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Almunia told Bloomberg TV over the weekend that some of the responses to Google's latest set of proposals were "very, very negative" and meant that the EC considers itself to be justified in pursuing extra concessions from Google.

Last week , Microsoft and European publishers called for Almunia's office to reject Google's proposals, which are intended to remedy a number of complaints about how it conducts its search business in Europe.

The most widely criticised part of Google's proposal was that it failed to satisfactorily address the company favouring its own specialised search services, such as shopping and travel. Google had offered to provide a space next to its own vertical search listings, which would be auctioned off to rivals, but critics claimed that proposal would simply generate Google further revenues. Microsoft also said that the space Google allocated to others was inferior to that it kept for itself.

Complainants also argued that the proposals didn't adequately deal with concerns over Google's exclusivity agreements with advertisers, with Microsoft claiming the proposals still allowed Google to contractually lock customers into Google's own advertising.

In a blogpost over the weekend, Google chairman Eric Schmidt rebutted claims by European publishers that it was too dominant and favoured its own products like Maps, YouTube and Google Shopping in its search results.

"While we're fortunate to have been very successful in Europe, it's not the case that Google is 'the gateway to the internet' as the publishers suggest," Schmidt wrote.

"To get news, you'll probably go direct to your favorite news site. It's why newspapers like Bild, Le Monde and the Financial Times get most of their online traffic directly (less than 15 percent comes from Google). Or you might follow what other people are reading on Twitter," he continued.

"Nor is it true to say that we are promoting our own products at the expense of the competition. We show the results at the top that answer the user’s queries directly (after all we built Google for users, not websites)," he said, pointing to how it now provides a local weather summary at the top of the page.

"Ask for the weather and we give you the local weather right at the top. This means weather sites rank lower, and get less traffic. But because it’s good for users, we think that’s OK," he said.

Search is not the only battle Google is facing in Europe: on the sidelines is the prospect that Europe may open an official investigation into its Android ecosystem .

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