EU offers vitamin pill to dying media patient

August 26, 2016

Brussels wants to give media the right to seek compensation from search engines like Google that use online content. The intention is laudable - some publishers may be losing out. But the proposal has similarities with schemes in Germany and Spain - which haven’t worked.

“Because it’s France” no basis for EU budget rules

June 1, 2016

Jean-Claude Juncker used that to explain why France wins more fiscal leeway. This might be worrying coming from the head of the European Commission, which enforces budget discipline, if it weren’t already plain. Blindly applying rules is foolish, as is regular failure to do so.

Greek deal is rational, predictable, messy

May 25, 2016

Both the IMF and Europe have compromised in Greece’s new debt plan. Athens’ fiscal targets are looser, but less so than the IMF wanted. Its debt costs will fall, but the relief is vague. There’s a hoary cliche about kicking the can down the road. This doesn’t even go that far.

Brussels O2 veto cements BT’s home advantage

May 11, 2016

The EU’s anti-trust tsar has rejected CK Hutchison’s 10.3 billion pound takeover of O2, because it says it would raise mobile prices. That leaves several UK players figuring out next steps. In an industry moving towards packages of mobile, landline, broadband and TV, the winner is the beefed-up BT.

O2 deal may get hung up on UK telco concessions

December 9, 2015

Brussels’ trustbusters are assessing the market impact of Hutchison’s 10 bln stg bid for Telefonica’s UK arm. It would be odd to push the bidder to surrender spectrum: rivals have more. A demand for it to create a new operator looks sounder but would hurt the deal logic.

Google EU antitrust spat riddled with holes

August 28, 2015

The search giant’s robust response to a European challenge over price comparison tools ratchets up a complex theoretical battle over what makes a monopoly. Yet the dispute misses a broader point: it’s hard to see how any likely outcome will make a massive difference to consumers.

EU’s competition sprawl as worrying as Google’s

April 15, 2015

Europe has accused the web giant of favoring its own shopping search results and broadened the case to include its Android mobile operating system. Investigations and appeals may take a decade. Brussels’ ambitious lack of focus is similar to what threatens ever-expanding Google.

Europe picks up as Commission predicts recession

February 24, 2012

The European Commission is belatedly forecasting recession – but data may now be improving outside the euro periphery. Germany’s Ifo survey has risen for a fourth month and UK export orders have leapt. Global growth and inflation could be firmer than expected.

Euro left is powerless against austerity zealots

March 16, 2012

Opposition to the euro zone fiscal compact is mounting among centre-left parties. This could derail ratification by some member states. But rules to enforce strict fiscal discipline are already part of European law, and Germany and the ECB are still calling the shots.

Watchdogs could change Vivendi’s EMI tune

March 23, 2012

The French group’s Universal music arm feels so good about its chances of success that it agreed to pay the full $1.9 bln price even if trustbusters block the deal. But it’s actually a third possibility - being forced to sell pieces - that could be the costliest for Universal.