Riding With the E.U.'s Cartel Busters

GERARD CERLES/AFP

E.U. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti

Busting cartels is sexy. And last week the European Commission issued a very sexy €478 million fine — its second-largest ever. But cartels themselves are decidedly unsexy; this one — consisting of France's Lafarge, Britain's BPB, Germany's Knauf and Belgium's Gyproc — allegedly fixed prices for ... plaster-board. While building materials won't make hearts race, the Commission's action was significant, coming a day after it announced the biggest changes to E.U. competition enforcement in 40 years. Under the rules, drafted by Mario Monti, the Commission vows to focus only on the largest cartels while devolving power to national authorities and courts...

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