Final Word from Friday, December 13, 2002





A cabinet minister said recently in a private discussion that he respects the independence of the antitrust office but has his doubts about it. He could accept if it were tough in all cases, he said, but he can't accept it when decisions are different in similar cases. This same argument was used this week when the agency set strict conditions for ČEZ's takeover of the regional distributors. RWE was allowed to take over the entire gas market, critics said, so why can't ČEZ take over the entire power market? Other critics have questioned the agency's competence, while still others say it's acting tough to show the EU that it means business. It's true, of course, that the agency's critics are mainly those who have had their commercial plans scuttled by it. There have been rumors that Vladimír Špidla himself is dissatisfied with the agency, but he stood up for it yesterday.

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