Ten years ago, the European Commission ordered its member states to dismantle their government interests in private corporations--like VW--and report back to Brussels. The idea has always been to create a free-trade zone within the Union; but the largest members of the European Union haven't exactly complied.
A recent ruling by the European Court of Justice to end Germany's VW law will help the Commission tilt at windmills like "golden shares" or "multiple voting rights" and other newish tricks that help governments protect privatized national enterprises from foreign takeover.
But regulators in Brussels, by the end of 2005, still had an internal list of 141 firms that were protected by European governments through special rights. In fact Charlie McCreevy, the Irishman responsible for enforcing European market laws at the EU Commission, has noticed a steadily decreasing tendency among member states to root out protectionism.
Source: Business Week, http://businessweek.com
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