Tech giants don’t grow on European soil

September 16, 2016

The region hasn't produced its own answers to tech disruptors like Facebook and Alibaba. That leaves the EU open to accusations of sour grapes when foreign companies like Apple are targeted for unpaid taxes. Regulation and fragmented markets explain Europe's failure to launch.

Dublin faces fiendishly tough call on Apple appeal

September 2, 2016

Ireland has a stark choice: take 13 bln euros from the tech giant in back tax and hurt its standing with multinationals, or keep its national business model intact. With Brexit looming, the safe choice is to appeal. But the country has more scope to annoy Apple than it did.

Europe’s bite at Apple could leave bad aftertaste

August 30, 2016

The European Commission wants companies to pay their fair share of tax. Zeroing in on Apple’s alleged sweetheart deal with Ireland fits that agenda. But it could misfire. Reeling from Brexit, Dublin might feel pressure to make itself even more friendly to corporate taxpayers

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.