Global Economics

US Lobbied Kroes to Be Nicer to Microsoft


The EU competition commissioner says U.S. diplomats made the request before she fined the software giant €280.5 million in its antitrust case

The US government sought to influence the European Commission over Microsoft's antitrust case, according to competition commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Kroes said the US embassy in Brussels had asked her to be "nicer" to Microsoft ahead of her decision to fine the software giant €280.5m in July.

The commissioner was critical of the approach. Kroes told Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad this week: "This is of course an intervention which is not possible."

When asked if she was annoyed by the embassy's approach, she said: "In my work, I cannot have a preference. I have, however, a personal opinion but that is for Saturday night."

Kroes' spokesperson added in an email to silicon.com sisters site ZDNet UK on Tuesday: "We can confirm that she was lobbied and that she did not appreciate it."

Microsoft declined to comment on Kroes' claims but an insider insisted the company had not tried to influence discussions between the US government and the EC.

The US embassy had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.

Microsoft was hit with the fine for failing to comply with the Commission's landmark antitrust ruling of 2004.

The EC had ordered the software giant to open up its code to help rival's server software to be fully compatible with Windows.

Microsoft has previously denied failing to comply with the terms of the antitrust ruling. Two months ago, it submitted a lengthy document that it said proved it had opened up its server interoperability protocols, as demanded by the EC.

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