Antitrust Chief in Europe Seeks to Close Cases

Two months before her term expires, Neelie Kroes, the European antitrust chief, has signaled that a settlement is within reach that could end one of the most contentious disputes of her tenure: the long-running case against Microsoft.European officials have in recent weeks been market-testing an offer made by Microsoft in July that would give European computer users a choice of Web browsers when setting up the next version of its Windows operating system.With the pace of negotiations accelerating, Ms. Kroes said in an interview on Monday that she was eager to reach a deal. But she indicated that her legal team was carefully examining the fine print to make sure it met all necessary conditions.”I would be pleased if we could close that dossier,” Ms. Kroes said about her battle with Microsoft that included a series of rulings that has resulted in fines of 1.2 billion euros, or $1.8 billion, against the company since she took office in 2004. But Ms. Kroes, of the Netherlands, said she wanted a solution that she could “present to the outside world” and that would enable her to tell consumers “that indeed competition is there.”Ahead of a visit to the United States this week, Ms. Kroes also said she would discuss antitrust issues involving Google, another technology giant that has a powerful market position, with her United States counterpart. And she underlined the importance of trans-Atlantic cooperation in creating the “transparent and predictable competition policy” that she said she thought globalization required.

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