Transatlantic sniping among antitrust enforcement officials last week highlighted the growing rift between how the United States and the European Union police the world’s largest companies.After a Luxembourg court upheld an antitrust ruling and a record $689-million fine against Microsoft Corp., the top U.S. antitrust enforcer complained that the ruling had done little to help consumers — and may even hurt them. EU officials fired back, calling the criticism “totally unacceptable” and defending themselves against accusations that the case represented European protectionism.The conflict is more than symbolic. Some antitrust experts say Europe’s tougher approach, designed to help consumers by strengthening companies that compete against dominant firms, could backfire, leading to higher prices and discouraging companies from developing innovative products.Europe’s expanding role as the de facto global antitrust watchdog is making some U.S. companies and lawmakers nervous, especially now that the EU is the world’s largest economy.
Free-market think tank urges EU to unbundle Windows
The Globalisation Institute, a European think-tank run by free market advocates, today went on the offensive against Microsoft, calling on the EU to require all PCs to be sold without operating systems.