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EU targets consumer, innovation in antitrust fight

  Consumer protection and innovation will take priority when the European Commission considers antitrust cases, the EU executive said on Wednesday, clarifying its approach to cases of market dominance.

 

The Commission said draft guidelines to be adopted soon set out its determination to focus on cases where exclusionary conduct of a dominant company was liable to harm consumers. “It will ensure that the Commission’s intervention is effective,” EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. Companies with a dominant market position would find the Commission in their way “wherever their conduct risks increasing prices, limiting consumer choice or dissuading innovation”, she said.

The Commission, which polices competition in the 27-country EU, said the priority of its enforcement policy would be on protecting consumers and the competition process, not on helping individual competitors. “The Commission does not need to establish that the dominant undertaking’s conduct actually harmed competition, only that there is convincing evidence that harm is likely,” it said.

The EU executive said the announcement did not mean previous antitrust decisions it had made against such companies as Microsoft and Telefonica were flawed. The Commission, pressed by EU finance ministers to clear more speedily government assistance to banks hit by the financial crisis, has also promised revised guidelines on state aid in coming days. (Reuters)