(Updates with Google comment in seventh paragraph.)
Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators haven’t decided whether they should file a formal complaint against Google Inc. over possible discrimination against rivals in search results, the EU’s antitrust chief said.
“The commission is to date not in a position to say whether its investigation will lead to issuing a statement of objections,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement published on the European Parliament’s website in Brussels dated yesterday.
The EU is investigating Google over claims it discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting rival ads. Microsoft Corp. is among companies that asked the agency to examine the Mountain View, California-based search engine.
“A thorough assessment of the several categories of allegations of infringements of competition rules brought forward by several complainants is necessary,” Almunia said in a written response to a question from an EU lawmaker.
The Association of Spanish Newspaper Publishers is the latest to complain to regulators about Google’s behavior. The group said on Dec. 23 that it wrote to the commission to raise concerns that Google “abuses its dominant position” by using news content without paying for it.
If news providers opt out of appearing in Google’s search results, they effectively “disappear from the Internet,” the association said. It declined to comment further today.
Belgian Newspaper Case
Google continues “to work closely with the European Commission to explain our business,” Al Verney, a spokesman for the company, said in an e-mailed statement today.
The commission is still considering whether to treat the Spanish letter as a formal complaint, said a press officer who couldn’t be identified in line with official policy.
Google dropped some Belgian content from its online news site last year after an appeals court ruling blocked it from publishing links to local newspapers. It removed and later restored their stories from its search engine after an agreement with their copyright management group.
El Mundo reported the Spanish newspapers’ complaint last month.
--With assistance from Emma Ross-Thomas in Madrid. Editors: Peter Chapman, Heather Smith
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