Europe’s antitrust chief says fences hurt economies, consumers

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By Foo Yun Chee | BRUSSELS

BRUSSELS Building fences and barriers will hurt
economies and drive up prices, Europe’s antitrust chief said on
Friday, days after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an
executive order to erect a wall on the southern U.S. border with
Mexico.

People who put their faith in fences instead of open markets
are going about it the wrong way, European Competition
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a conference in Copenhagen.

“Those defences will not help. They’ll only weaken our
economies and increase prices for consumers, without giving
people any more control over their own lives,” she said, without
referring to Trump directly.

“But when people have the sense that markets aren’t
listening to their needs, then we shouldn’t be surprised if they
start to look for radical alternatives.”

Vestager riled the previous U.S. administration when she
ordered iPhone maker Apple to pay up to 13 billion
euros ($13.9 billion) in back taxes to Ireland last year because
its tax deal was considered illegal state aid.

She is also investigating other major U.S. companies, such
as Internet search giant Google and mobile chipset
maker Qualcomm, with both companies facing potential
sanctions this year for alleged breaches of EU antitrust rules.

U.S. online retailer Amazon is also in Vestager’s
sight over its tax deal with Luxembourg.
($1 = 0.9354 euros)



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