Jeremy Warner: Intel gets it in the neck from Kroes

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The Independent Online

Outlook You can get almost any merger past the European Union these days. The recession has also caused the rules governing state aid to be virtually scrapped. Yet at least one area of European competition policy remains reassuringly intact. Ploughing an ever more lonely furrow, Neelie Kroes, the European Competition Commissioner, has slapped a record-breaking fine on Intel. And there we all were thinking the one-time scourge of big business was going soft.

Leaving aside the issue of how she arrived at the curiously precise number of €1.06bn, this was actually a remarkably good decision. There is no excuse for unfair trading practice, particularly in a recession where the need to preserve a level playing field is more important than ever. Intel naturally denies abuse, but the evidence looks detailed and damning.

There are only two mainstream competitors in computer chips, and it is essential that the bigger of them is prevented from knobbling the other before he even gets out of the starting blocks. Well done Ms Kroes. Maybe the European Commission still has a purpose afterall.