Google's top European executive Matt Brittin has warned the continent could fall behind the US and even China in digital innovation due to overregulation.

Brittin, Google’s president of European operations, said that tech companies and entrepreneurs are being suffocated by red tape on the continent.

He wants the European Union to speed up plans to adopt a digital single market model across the 28-member bloc which would allow businesses to complete online transactions across borders.

“There are some places in Europe and some interests in Europe where the first inclination is to protect the past from the future,” he told the Financial Times.

“[The officials are] good people that are trying to inform themselves about the world, and maybe could be better informed than they are.

“There is an educational job to do there. We and others have a lot to do.

“This five-year period where the internet population will double is a massive opportunity.

“We need to help European entrepreneurs to connect with that [but] I really think there is a risk we miss the boat.

“If the services and products they are using are not made in Europe then they will be made in China, and Asia-Pacific and Silicon Valley, and that will be a big missed opportunity.”

Google supports hundreds of European start-ups but has come under investigation from the European Commission over whether it broke the continent’s antitrust rules.

It is alleged to have favoured its own services in web searches and is also accused of stifling competition through requiring smartphone and tablet makers to pre-install a suite of its own apps for messages, search, email and other functions on Android devices.

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