EU Cries Foul Over Boeing Deal

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: A trade war between the U.S. and Europe may be looming over the proposed merger of U.S. aircraft giants Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. Although the FTC is likely to approve the deal, McDonnell Douglas CEO Harry Stonecipher charges that Karel van Miert, the European Union's top Competition Commission official, is lobbying federal regulators to stop the merger out of fears that it would effectively squeeze out Europe's Airbus. At stake is the multi-billion dollar global commercial aircraft market. Boeing currently holds two-thirds of the world's market, while Airbus holds almost a third but has recently lost out to Boeing on a number of giant orders from Asian countries for commercial planes. The E.U. says the deal, coupled with Boeing's fat contracts to be the exclusive supplier to both American and Delta Air Lines, will give the company the ability to grab an even greater market share. TIME's Jay Branegan notes that while the E.U. doesn't have the power to block the merger, it could make selling in the European market extremely difficult for Boeing. The E.U. could go as far as fining Boeing up to 10 percent of its total global revenues - billions of dollars - if it rules the deal violates European anti-trust laws. "It's unlikely the E.U. will back down," Branegan notes, "so the question is whether Boeing can bend enough to meet the objections."