Google chief Eric Schmidt

Google chief Eric Schmidt said Europe’s leaders must do more to embrace the digital economy in order to boost growth and jobs, in an article published on Monday by the European Commission — despite its ongoing probe into the internet search giant.

“It’s time for action,” Mr. Schmidt wrote on the homepage of the European Union’s digital agenda commissioner, Neelie Kroes. “Instead of riding the wave of technological change and innovation, inaction will put Europe’s economy at risk,” he added.

Mr. Schmidt said “strong leadership” was necessary to reform the EU’s digital market, which is fragmented along national lines, predicting that reforms could boost the continent’s flagging economy by at least 4 per cent of gross domestic product by 2020.

“On a continent in search of economic hope, the internet represents the main motor of growth,” he said.

Ms. Kroes’s office said there was no connection between Mr. Schmidt’s column and the commission’s longstanding investigation into concerns that Google may be illegally squashing competitors.

The internet giant could be fined billions of euros if it fails to sufficiently address the complaints of rivals such as Microsoft, who argue that Google’s search results favour its specialised services — such as Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Places.

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