FEBRUARY 2, 1998
Mosley responds to the European Union
THE Federation Internationale de l'Automobile is to fight the European Union over its suggestion in December that the motor racing industry is in violation of a number of European Union competition rules. In a letter to the EU Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert, which was leaked to press, FIA President Max Mosley says that the European Commission "makes a number of claims which the FIA believes are erroneous or based on a very limited understanding of structures of national and international motor sport" and picked holes in several of the EU claims.
Last month Van Miert was quoted in the Belgian press saying that he had not seen a case with so many anti-trust infringements in his three years as Competitions Commissioner. In his reply to Van Miert, Mosley questions the right of the EU Commissioner to have jurisdiction over sporting bodies as they are not commercial enterprises. Mosley has the support of the German government on this, as it is already campaigning for sport to be excluded from anti-trust laws. Van Miert is ignoring that as he investigates not only the FIA but also the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA).
Van Miert specializes in a confrontational style of politics and nearly took Europe into a trade war with the United States over his opposition to a merger between Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. Last week he announced fines on Volkswagen of $111m for anti-competitive dealings in Italy. He is investigating both Mercedes-Benz and Opel on similar charges. The Volkswagen fine is the biggest against a single company although the EU broke up a cartel in the concrete industry in 1994 with combined fines of $295m.
Van Miert is also investigating the planned merger between German TV groups Kirch and Bertelsmann, an agreement which is of critical importance for F1's digital TV services.
Van Miert's abrasive and high-profile attacks on international businesses seem to be the beginnings of a campaign to get himself elected President of the European Commission when the current terms ends in January 2000.
Formula 1 is seeking clearance from the European Union so that Bernie Ecclestone can float his Formula 1 Holdings company, a move which will guarantee the long-term stability of the sport.
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