Friday, January 15, 2010

Europe - Kroes shies away from more phone bill curbs

[reuters] The European commissioner designated to police telecoms has outlined her ambition to remove cross-border barriers on the Internet but shied away from promising further curbs on the cost of using mobile phones.

Neelie Kroes, the economist who as EU competition chief broke up some of the region's biggest banks, won a fierce reputation for notching up a series of cartel fines, including one of almost 1 billion euros (888 million pounds).

On Thursday, the 68-year-old Dutch politician met parliamentarians to answer questions in a hearing to test her suitability for rejoining the European Union's 27-strong executive.

Many lawmakers, however, expressed frustration with her answers, which some said were vague. "I don't really have the feeling that I know what direction you want to go in," German lawmaker Angelika Niebler said.

Appearing flustered at times, Kroes flagged her ambition to make it easier to buy and sell online in different European countries.

"Our European online market is an uneven patchwork of national markets," she said. "They are divided by different regulations."

Kroes also faced questions on whether she would continue the clampdown started by her predecessor, Viviane Reding, on curbing the amount mobile phone companies can charge for calls abroad.

EU's Kroes shies away from more phone bill curbs

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