14 April 2009

The Speeches of Commisioner Kroes

The speeches of Neelie Kroes are hard hitting and delivered with good humor. Of late the outgoing Commissioner has upped the entertainment value in her public pronouncements. Those wanting punchy quotes to adorn their essays would do well to look at the speech she gave on 30 March 2009 at the Economic Club of Toronto: 'The crisis and the road to recovery.' The layout is like a free verse poem, here are some of the more quirky lines:

"It may seem crazy to draw a line between this belief in a shared humanity and competition policy, but if you will indulge me – that is what I will try to do this morning." (candidate for a future exam question)

"Do we have complete answers to the current problems? No, I would be a rich woman if I did have the answers!" (not as good as the 'known unknowns' of another gifted speaker)

"We cut down the red tape and favoured pragmatism over some of the ideas and processes that had put competition policy in a ghetto marked 'for lawyers only'." (but a pretty well remunerated ghetto of practitioners)

"After four years – when the financial and then economic crisis hit - the systems were lean and fast and ready to deal with a moving target. It's an approach that Wayne Gretzky calls 'skating to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.'" (the speech has another quote from the great man, plus a reference to Margaret Atwood)

"We aren't about to let EU Member States create inefficient national champions so they can patch up their pride.
Nor do we want to see two struggling banks cripple each other through a botched merger, or create another bank that is 'too big to fail.'
So it is business as usual in merger control – for all our sakes."
(serious point here - line 2. The Commission does not necessarily have the power to prevent a merger that causes a bank to become too big to fail. Such a bank need not have market power but is so interconnected in the financial system that its failure would spell disaster across the banking sector. So, is she hinting that the Commission may be prepared to intervene in a case where the merger does not substantially impede effective competition but where the merged entity is too big to fail?')

'Tough love is certainly the way to describe our subsidy control in banking and other sectors.' (another future exam question)

'We are working like hell to make recovery happen in Europe.' (puzzled looks from the audience)

'I want us to be able to turn around and look our grandchildren in the eyes and say that we did the right thing by them. ' (audience by now wiping tears away)

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