Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) is disappointed with the European Commission’s decision to move forward with a ruling that Microsoft is in violation of European antitrust laws. The actions by European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti and the European Commission unfairly target Microsoft and discourage innovation in the high tech sector. Microsoft is being punished for its success in providing the software products that European consumers demand. Despite the fact that there has been no demonstration of consumer harm, negotiations failed this week and a formal ruling against Microsoft is expected next week. The European Commission appears more intent on coddling Microsoft’s competitors rather than considering the interests of European consumers and the concept of regulatory fairness in European markets. The U.S. and Europe need to work on removing barriers to trade, and this ruling is another step backwards.
CSE’s President, Paul Beckner, commented:
“After more than five years of costly litigation, this decision is bad news for consumers. The decision of the European Commission to pursue penalties where consumer harm was never proved sends an ominous message to producers: Those who secure a large market share through hard work, superior products and services, and innovation will be punished. Consumers should enjoy the benefits of a high-tech sector that competes through innovation, providing consumers with the products they need at affordable prices. Excessive government regulation and courtroom competition does little for consumers, as producers vie for market share through legal barriers rather than better products.
“This decision clouds the future of the high-tech sector at a time when it is struggling to recover from an economic downturn. This decision puts the concerns of special interests before the welfare of consumers. These issues were already addressed once by our own legal system. It is a shame that rivals can now rush to the EU for a second bite at the apple.
“In a case where consumer harm was never demonstrated, the European Commission’s proposed penalties damage Microsoft for the sake of its competitors. The decision has failed to establish ground rules for a dynamic marketplace and fails to serve the needs of the consumers while setting a dangerous precedent that producers can gain market share not through innovation but court orders and government regulation.”