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EU Launches Lawsuits

4 April 2006

FRANCE – As reported by Bloomberg: "April 4 (Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators will today issue legal challenges to France, Spain and other governments for hindering takeovers or competition in industries from energy to gambling.

"The European Commission, the EU's executive agency, accuses France of protecting companies such as vaccine makers and casinos, Spain of attempting to keep foreign power companies at bay and several countries of failing to open utility markets. The body will decide the specific measures at a meeting in Strasbourg, France, spokesmen said.

"The commission is pushing ahead with a campaign to erase borders to business that it credits with creating 2.5 million jobs and 877 billion euros ($1.1 trillion) of wealth in its first 10 years from 1992. Protectionism threatens those gains, Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy warned last week.

"…In another takeover dispute with France, the commission may make its first formal step toward a lawsuit today over a Dec. 31 French government decree requiring any foreign buyer to get government approval before acquiring companies in 11 designated industries, including computer security, vaccines and casinos.

"The French government has said the measure is tailored to apply to defense and security companies, which are exempt from EU market rules against takeover barriers. Casinos are included to ensure they aren't used as conduits for money laundering and funding of terrorism…"

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