You were appointed European Commissioner for Competition last October. The daily press in France pointed out that you came from the business world in the Netherlands. However, you have significant political experience in the Dutch government and have been involved in the design and implementation of important reforms. Can you tell us what were the main stages in your career up to your appointment as Commissioner? I am an economist by training and started my professional life teaching transport economics at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. I have subsequently held various local and national elective positions. In 1977, I became Secretary of State and then, from 1982, Minister of Transport, Public Works and Telecommunications of my country. I held this post until 1989, when I had
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– You were appointed European Commissioner for Competition last October. The daily press in France pointed out that you came from the business world in the Netherlands. However, you have significant political experience in the Dutch government and you have been involved in the design and implementation of important reforms. Can you tell us what were the main stages in your career up to your appointment as Commissioner?
– Why did you yourself want to join the European Commission? And why did you particularly want the competition portfolio?}}
– You were President of the prestigious Dutch Business School Cornelis Nijenrode, as was your Belgian predecessor, Karel van Miert. Does this reveal a particular doctrinal reference for your work in the new Commission?
– Some French media have portrayed you as a Commissioner who is very close to the "Anglo-Saxon" views on market and competition. What do you think of this?
– You have started to detail in Brussels, Milan and other places the priorities of your competition action programme. Can you tell us about your priorities?
– The European Competition Network set up under Regulation 1/2003 has now been operational for almost a year. What are the main successes that you attribute to this new way of applying European competition law? What are the weaknesses of the new system and what remedial mechanisms do you intend to propose?
– You started the work on the modernization of section 82. What exactly are your objectives? Is this reform going to affect the operation of Article 86, which concerns undertakings entrusted with exclusive and special rights, entrusted with services of general economic interest?
– One of the major procedural innovations introduced in recent years is the leniency policy. You have recently mentioned the possibility of developing a "one-stop shop" to ensure that this system operates in a fully effective manner. How do you intend to proceed to achieve this objective, which presupposes a fairly close harmonisation of procedural rules in the 25 member countries?
– In the context of the "modernised" European competition policy, how do you perceive the role of national courts in the implementation of Community law? How can we ensure that the Commission’s new capacity to intervene before these courts does not appear to call into question the independence of these courts, which apply the law alongside the national competition authorities?
– Internationally, one of the European Union’s main partners is the United States. How do you see relations with this country in terms of bilateral cooperation: are clashes of the kind observed during the handling of the GE/Honeywell merger or Microsoft’s abuse of a dominant position not foreseeable? Can the Union maintain a competition policy different from that of the United States, adapted to the context of economic organisation which continues to mark Europe (a high level of social and consumer protection, major demands in terms of public services, high density and quality infrastructures etc.)?
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