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EU’s Almunia denies decision on Google was postponed to appease lobbyists


By Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europes antitrust chief hit back on Friday at media reports suggesting that he had bowed to political lobbying by delaying a final decision on alleged anti-competitive behavior by Google. European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in May that he wanted to close the case against the worlds most popular internet search engine before the end of his five-year term, but he announced this week that he would not be able to do so before he stands down next month, leaving his successor to take over. Almunia had previously indicated that he intended to accept concessions offered by the company in February in a proposed deal that attracted heavy criticism from rivals such as Microsoft, a host of smaller competitors across Europe and some EU lawmakers. Speaking at a conference in New York on Friday, Almunia defended the delay by insisting that Google, under fire for allegedly promoting its own services at rivals expense, needs to improve its proposal to settle the investigation without a fine, which could be as high as $5 billion.

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