It seems that late March is when the European Commission is set to decide if it will move ahead formally with its anti-trust probe into whether Google has abused its dominant position in the search market.

As Reuters reports, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia expects to receive comments from the team investigating the case at the end of the first quarter of 2012. From there, a decision will be made on whether to move forward with anti-trust proceedings which could take years to resolve.

The European Commission’s investigation began in late 2010, with a number of specialist, ‘vertical’ search engines complaining that Google pushed their results down its rankings in favour of its own. More complainants from the worlds of mapping and news publishing joined later. We interviewed one startup Twenga, which was planning on filing a complaint. The interview sums up many of the grievances felt by companies that feel hard-done by Google.

In Europe, this probe isn’t the only one that Google is waiting to hear a decision on. European officials are also considering its bid to acquire Motorola Mobility, announced last summer. Meanwhile, an antitrust investigation in the US has reportedly been expanded to include the recently introduced social search features powered by Google+.