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Google urged to rethink mobile in crunch EU antitrust talks

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Brussels' antitrust watchdog is reportedly trying to strong-arm Google into making sweeping changes to its mobile services.

It's understood the European Union's competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia waited until the final stages of negotiations over fair practices with the web colossus before bringing up the matter.

Google and European officials have been locked in crunch talks after the company was told to address "abuse of dominance" allegations or else face "lengthy proceedings". Google is accused of stifling rivals by favouring its own products in search results.

The Financial Times reported this morning that discussions between the company and officials were now on a "knife-edge" after Google put forward a revised package of concessions to Almunia's office last week. The details of this fresh offer have not been made public.

The commissioner now has to decide if the talks will lead to his preferred route of "a quick resolution". He has repeatedly said it would be "better to restore competition swiftly in fast-moving markets, provided of course that the companies concerned are ready to seriously address and solve the problems at stake".

But it's possible that Almunia's patience with Google is now running thin: the FT reported that EC competition officials have "asked complainants to provide non-confidential versions of information submitted to the two-year investigation – a procedural step taken when preparing a charge sheet".

In April, a spokeswoman at Almunia's office told The Register that a Statement of Objections would be the "natural next step" if the commissioner's conclusions on Google were damning. The company has continued to deny any wrongdoing.

Sources previously suggested that a 400-page dossier of objections could be issued by the end of the first quarter. That time period has now elapsed while Almunia has been in repeated talks with Google. Come next week, we should know the outcome of those tough discussions. ®

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