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EU: Commissioners race to the finish line as new EC steps up

 |  October 8, 2014

The EU’s competition chief is racing to the finish line of his term with a slew of recent announcements. While Commission insiders tell reporters that this end-of-term activity is not unusual, some critics say it may bar successors from taking control of their own agendas once in office.

Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has made a slew of announcements in recent weeks, most notably with plans of an investigation into corporations’ tax relationships with certain member states. Starbucks, Apple, Fiat, and now Amazon are all being put under the spotlight for tax breaks given to them in the EU, and the Commission is now probing whether those breaks constitute illegal state aid.

In her confirmation hearings, Almunia’s successor Margrethe Vestager said those tax probes are a “high priority” for her term, and vowed to continue cases launched by Almunia with as much force.

Also among the closely-watched cases launched by Almunia is the investigation into Google’s alleged abuse of its market dominance in the way it displays rival search results. Vestager is expected to carry the torch passed by Almunia on this matter as well, and she will come into office just weeks after Almunia back-tracked and decided that Google’s third round of concessions was not enough to ease competition concerns.

According to reports, some experts are concerned that Almunia is too quickly launching new cases to be handed to his successor. Some claim, say reports, that the slew of announcements sets out Vestager’s agenda after Almunia’s departure without Vestager having much say.

Full content: Financial Times

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