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Kroes pleased with insurance inquiry response


BRUSSELS, Belgium— Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, said Tuesday that she is pleased with the comments received from stakeholders as part of the Commission's business insurance sector inquiry.

Ms. Kroes told the European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in Brussels, that the comments would be of "great value" and help draw conclusions for the final report that she plans to publish in September.

The Commissioner's comments came as part of her annual report to the Parliament Committee in which she reviewed activity in 2007 and plans for 2008.

She said that she was pleased with progress to date but stressed that "there is no time to rest on our laurels: there is still a lot of work ahead."

Ms. Kroes said that the implementation of state aid reform remains a key priority.

The competition commission has already presented a draft "General Block Exemption" that aims to simplify, rationalize, consolidate and increase the possibilities for Member States to grant aid without having to notify it to the Commission.

She also reminded the Committee that the Commission has also presented renewed environmental aid guidelines for consultation with Member States and stakeholders.

The Commissioner said that the fight against cartels "sadly" has to remain another ongoing priority. She said that so far this year her department has adopted three cartel decisions that led to fines that total more than €2 billion, and promised more.

"I expect to bring several more investigations to an end later this year," she said. Ms. Kroes said that the Commission is currently "following up" its inquiry into the energy sector through a series of individual competition cases.

The Commissioner also said that the Commission is considering recommendations from the Parliament about antitrust damages actions and will present its ideas in a white paper early next year.