European Union competition regulators are seeking for more concessions from Google for the settlement of a four-year-old antitrust probe into the company.
The probe is investigating Google's alleged abuse of the company's market leader position in the online search and advertisement business in Europe.
The probe was revived, with EU regulators seeking for the additional concessions from Google, because rival companies of Google sent very negative feedback on the current offer of the European Commission to Google for the settlement of the investigation.
The additional angles for the investigation, however, make it doubtful that Joaquin Almunia, the current European Competition Commissioner, will conclude the case before his mandate ends.
Almunia has two months remaining in his tenure, and had previously hoped to finish the probe into Google with a decision released following the summer break.
Rival companies of Google started to increase their pressure on Almunia last week to seek for more concessions, stating that a deal that was proposed in February would only entrench the over 80 percent market share of Google in Europe.
A total of 18 companies, over the previous couple of months, have sent replies to Almunia's statements that the commissioner will be rebuffing their grievances.
"In the replies to our letters the complainants have submitted new arguments and data, some of which should be taken in consideration. We are now in contact with Google to see if they are ready to offer solutions," said Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the Commission.
To date, Google has already made improvements three times to its settlement proposal for the investigation, which was launched in response to allegations that the company was forcing out rival companies in Internet search results, preventing advertisers from transferring to other platforms.
"We continue to work with the European Commission to resolve the concerns they have raised," said Al Verney, a spokesman for Google.
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, defended the company's position, stating that Google is not violating competition laws as the company's search engine is built primarily for the users, not for websites.
Almunia, however, may not ignore the overwhelmingly negative responses of Google's rival companies. The commissioner said in an interview that the department is analyzing new arguments and data sent by complainants as it seeks to extract solutions from Google to solve the issues.
FairSearch, a lobby group of complainants that includes Microsoft, Nokia and TripAdvisor, is seeking for the European Commission to release a statement of objections, which could lead to a fine on Google of an amount up to $5 billion.
"The Commission should issue a statement of objections," FairSearch said, referring to a charge sheet and process that could land Google a fine of up to $5 billion.