Brussels has blocked the merger of Portuguese energy groups EDP and GDP, the first such ruling in three years, on grounds the move would have interfered with the sector’s liberalisation.The veto reinforces an image of the European Commission under Portuguese president Jose Manuel Barroso as independent. The rejected project first began while he was Portugal’s prime minister. He did not take part in the executive’s debate on the matter. This is one of first high-profile actions taken by Dutch Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes. “I had to conclude that the parties were not in a position to offer appropriate remedies to meet our concerns. It is not difficult to conclude that in absence of appropriate remedies we were obliged to prohibit this operation.” Kroes is working within a curtailed mandate, given her extensive ex-corporate ties. This keeps her from involvement in sectors she had contact with in her previous career, to avoid sensitivities over conflict of interest.