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MARCH 1, 1999

Europe to keep pushing on competition rules

EUROPEAN Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert told reporters last week that he is not going to allow sport to be treated differently from any other big business. Van Miert and his staff are currently involved in around 60 cases involving different sports - which include a dispute with Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA over the sale of the TV rights for Formula 1 racing - and is planning to introduce new guidelines for applying competition rules to sports before he leaves office at the end of January next year.

Van Miert has been backed up by the President of the European Commission Jacques Santer who said that the Commission is facing "a crisis of public confidence" and needs to undergo considerable restructuring to define its important tasks, one of which, he believes, is the regulation of competition.

Van Miert said that some progress is being made in his fight with Formula 1 and that Bernie Ecclestone has made some concessions over the sale of the television rights but he added that "we are not yet at a point where we can say that all the problems have been solved."