Readers both within and outside Europe will know that the continent is enduring what Charles Dickens called hard times. European institutions and governments are seeking to impose austerity measures on a public that is increasingly left-leaning and hostile to such measures.
Many other counties around the world are suffering too. However, in Europe the differences between smaller and poorer nations at the periphery of the continent at the larger and wealthier nations at the center is, having the effect of unbalancing the washing machine spin cycle of the Euro currency experiment, with potentially disastrous consequences.
And so it should be no surprise that bureaucrats in Brussels also look externally.
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Microsoft and Boeing could be two companies set to feel the ire of the European Union
It is expected that software giant Microsoft Corp. will be charged with antitrust offences having failed to offer European users of its Windows operating system a choice of web browsers, which it was told to do in 2009 for a period of at least five years.
Back in July Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the Commission in charge of competition policy, said: "I trusted the company's reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action. If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions."
I don't think they're doing anything that's particularly protectionist.
In Boeing's case it's a matter of levelling the playing field (tariffs to counteract subsidies).
In Microsoft's case, I don't think there's any regional interests at play here. The most popular alternative browsers to Internet Explorer are Chrome, Firefox, and Safari - and these are all developed by US companies.