New EU Antitrust Chief: Joaquin Almunia

Josh Wright —  28 November 2009

Joaquin Almunia, described by the WSJ story as a Spanish socialist.  Almunia’s current charge has been to help craft the EU’s response to the financial crisis:

In his current job, Mr. Almunia, 61 years old, has been in the thick of the EU’s response to the financial crisis, though the economic-affairs post has little regulatory power and he has kept a low profile through much of the upheaval. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers last year, he blamed weak regulation in the U.S. for triggering global panic that hurt the EU economy, but he was less vocal than other EU officials.  Still, he appears comfortable with Europe’s traditionally tough antitrust tack: Several Spanish companies have come under fire from Mrs. Kroes in recent years, and one person familiar with the commission says Mr. Almunia has never intervened on their behalf.

I suspect little difference on substantive policy, but maybe less red-meat for supporters and critics in press releases (which is not a very adventurous prediction).