Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has blocked a proposed merger between Portugal's main gas and electricity companies, helping to dismiss claims that she is too close to business.
EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes on Thursday dismissed claims that she is too close to business interests to be tough on anti-competitive behavior as she blocked a proposed merger of Portugal’s main gas and electricity companies. Defending herself against critics, Kroes said that "a couple of people suggested that I would hold back … that I wouldn’t take tough action against businesses that violate the Competition rules because I was too close to business interests … and that I would be some kind of pussycat. The decisions [taken today] are hard evidence to the contrary … I promised that I would blow the whistle when needed and today I have put that into practice." The Commission blocked the proposed acquisition of Portugal’s state-owned gas company GDP by its main electricity company EDP and Italian energy company ENI, saying the merger would have "resulted in higher prices for Portuguese consumers and industrial users." It is the first time the EU has blocked such a merger deal in three years. (EUobserver.com)