LONDON Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner in charge of antitrust issues, is a tough cookie, She needs to be, looking into alleged misdemeanours by some of the biggest global corporations and governments.
On the high technology side, she is currently involved in bitterly contested cases against, to name just a few, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sun / Oracle.
European Commissioner for Competition
Some of these have been on-going for what seems like ages, and her biggest fight could be to see them through to completion, and pick up the garlands or the bric-bats.
For the Commission is due for its five-yearly musical chairs, and she seems most unlikely to retain her portfolio.
Indeed she may not even remain a Commissioner after November, since her free-market party is no longer part of the Dutch collation government, in whose favour the plum post resides.
Earlier this week, Paul Otellini could not but welcome a Q and A opportunity at the Intel Developers Forum to hammer home that the microprocessor giant plans to fight all the way in the European appeal courts against the Commissioner's ruling of using anticompetitive practices, and fining Intel a record $1.45 billion.
Otellini pointedly denied Intel had ever acted to quash a product using an AMD processor. The EC report alleged Intel paid PC makers to delay or limit distribution of AMD-based products.
"We don't do conditional deals, and we don't do exclusive deals--and when our side of this story comes out you will see that," he said.
Kroes is also, apparently, keen to reach a deal with Microsoft in the dispute over web browsers, another concerning mobile browsers and there is also the long running and acrimonious case in the tray concerning wireless chip maker Qualcomm concerning patent royalty payments.
The Commission has over the years imposed fines totalling 1.68 billion euros ($2.5 billion) on Microsoft for infringing EU antitrust rules. It could levy another hefty penalty if it were to rule against the company in the web browsers case.
Kroes' officials have been evaluating counter proposals by Microsoft that would give computer users in Europe a choice of Web browsers when the next version of Windows is rolled out.
She would undoubtedly be most satisfied to see the Microsoft dossier closed before she goes, since the battles against the software group have been perhaps the most contentious and on-going since she took over the baton 5 years ago.