Discussions are under way to nominate the next European Commissioner in charge of competition issues, replacing Mario Monti, who has been recalled from the post.
LONDON -- Discussions are under way to nominate the next European Commissioner in charge of competition issues, replacing Mario Monti, who has been recalled from the post.
The 25 members of the EC will be fully renewed in November. Incoming president José Barroso has started consultations regarding the positions.
Names circulating for the job are France's current commissioner for regional policy, Jacques Barrot; Germany's Guenter Verheugen; and current enlargement commissioner and former British secretary of state for trade and industry Peter Mandelson.
The EC is the European Union's executive arm. Each of the 25 member states nominates a commissioner, and the EC president allocates the various responsibilities.
Monti, who will not be part of the new team, has already served two five-year terms at the EC, first as financial-services commissioner in 1995. This time around, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has chosen another contender for commissioner, current European affairs minister Rocco Buttiglione.
One of Monti's last high-profile actions was to recommend approval of the Sony BMG merger, which was cleared in July despite strong initial reservations from his department. Monti was also in charge when the Warner EMI merger failed to earn EC approval in 2001.
Monti says in a statement that he would have enjoyed a third term to finish what he believes was his main task -- making the European market more competitive, with less barriers.
"I would have been pleased to carry on with determination my commitment for a more open and competitive European economy, intervening against distortions, restrictions and abuses, including those put in place by the most powerful member states," says Monti said in the statement. "The Italian government has decided differently."
Two of his most controversial decisions regarded the General Electric Co./Honeywell International Inc. merger, which was approved by Monti, and the Microsoft Corp. case, which resulted in the biggest fine ever imposed on a single company by the EC. Both cases face legal challenges.
Overall, former economics professor Monti is credited for having shaped the EC's doctrine on competition, pushing for a true free-market Europe and limiting the level of government subsidies.
His position sometimes forced him to fight against member states such as France or Germany that had opposing views and found his vision for Europe too liberal.
Record-company executives who had to deal with Monti's department speak of a "highly professional" operation, even if they found the EC's complicated procedures to be difficult to understand.