In a recent speech, Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition, highlighted the important relationship between competition policy and consumers, which she held are "at the heart of competition law".

Ms Kroes' speech to the General Assembly of Bureau Europeen des Unions de Consommateurs (BEUC), the European Consumers' Organisation, displays the Competition Commissioner's dedication to consumer causes.  With high-profile cases such as Microsoft ongoing, Ms Kroes has arguably proved wrong those critics who claimed her experience in big business would leave her sympathetic to corporate causes.

During the speech, consumer associations were referred to as vital and Ms Kroes explained that a Consumer Liaison Officer had been appointed at the Directorate-General for Competition for this reason.  It was also pointed out that damages actions for breaches of competition rules, rare at the moment, should be investigated as one way of offering more recourse to 'victims of competition law infringements'.  In furtherance of this, a White Paper on antitrust damages actions is being planned to follow up on the Green Paper on the same issue.  The latter dedicated a full chapter to defending consumer interests, and this can and will be debated in the future.

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