Longstanding barriers to competition within the European Union may soon tumble. On Feb. 15, French Finance Minister Hervé Gaymard announced plans to open up public procurement practices in water, electricity, transport, and postal services. France had agreed to the measures in 2004 as part of a $2.6 billion rescue package for engineering giant Alstom (ALSTY ). The pledge from Gaymard is a victory for the European Commission's new competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes. She threatened legal action against France because it hadn't yet honored its pledges on Alstom.

Edited by Rose Brady

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