Just a week after Google lost its appeal against a €2.42bn antitrust fine, the tech giant is stepping up its outreach to EU regulators, amid progress on a controversial piece of tech regulation, writes Javier Espinoza in Brussels.

Yesterday, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai held a virtual meeting with EU competition and digital policy chief Margrethe Vestager. By the end of this year, the company’s chief legal officer, Kent Walker, is expected to come to Brussels to speak to regulators and lawmakers.

The most pressing issue for Google doesn’t seem to revolve as much around past competition cases Vestager launched — though the company is still fighting those in EU courts — as it is about fresh legislation, particularly the Digital Markets Act, which is inching towards the final stages of negotiations after a deal in the European parliament last night.

The DMA is aimed at forcing tech giants to change their business models and allow smaller rivals a more prominent role on their platforms instead of pushing the company’s own services and products.

Vestager has stated publicly the legislation was inspired by the cases she brought against Google. And, as part of the parliament’s position agreed last night, the law will apply to any company with a market capitalisation of at least €80bn and offering at least one internet service — meaning that Google will definitely be among them.

Google’s lobbying efforts (which already rather clumsily sought to target EU internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton, for which Pichai apologised publicly) are likely to continue throughout the final stage of DMA negotiations between parliament, European Commission and EU governments in the coming months. The French EU presidency has stated its ambition to wrap up the negotiations in the first half of 2022.

On the opposite side, Google's plaintiffs who are arguing against the search engine's dominance, have also stepped up their lobbying with the commission.

FairSearch, a group representing smaller search engines that were behind the initial case leading to the €2.4bn fine, sent a letter to Vestager, arguing that “decisive enforcement of the decision is overdue”.

The letter, seen by Europe Express, argues that the remedies in place in shopping search have been ineffective and called on Brussels to force the US tech group to stop favouring its own products and start following the EU decision, confirmed by the Luxembourg-based court.

“Google continues to harm consumers and continues to favour results that economically benefit it, which is akin to favouring its own results, and starves providers of traffic and hence revenue that would allow them to compete on the merits,” the letter warned.

Separately, a new study by Thomas Höppner at law firm Hausfeld, which represents complainants against the company, showed that the search giant was not complying with what it needed to do to fix its anti-competitive behaviour. “Google will have to change the design of general search pages fundamentally — immediately,” Höppner wrote.

But Vestager is sticking to the line that Google is complying with the decision and allowing for more competitors to be shown prominently in search results.

A Google spokesperson said: “The changes we made are working successfully, generating billions of clicks for more than 700 comparison shopping services and are subject to intensive monitoring.”