On her second day officially on the job, Dutch commissioner Neelie Kroes ran into the first competition case which her past wouldn’t let her handle. To avoid potential conflict of interest which might stem from her having sat on the boards of at least a dozen major companies until just a few weeks ago, she passed on a merger involving one of her former stomping grounds: Dutch maritime transport firm P&O Nedlloyd.
Her boss, Mr Barroso, will take it on, or assign it to another commissioner. The Commission officially calculates that Kroes will have to withdraw from a very small percentage of competition dossiers which come across her desk. Some MEPs, however, think this is erring on the side of optimism. The Commission’s legal experts are concerned that, no matter what is done to maintain impartiality, someone out there will try to cast doubt on the neutrality of the decisions taken.