Thursday, October 14, 2004

An incitement to mediocrity

The EU commission has started infringement procedures against France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland for alleged breaches of procurement law, accusing the four governments of favouring the computer chip maker Intel when awarding public contracts.

It seems that some government offices in each of the four countries have been specifying Intel chips, or chips that work at the same speed as Intel's technology, when ordering their computer systems. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a rival chip maker, had complained ten months ago that the practice was anti-competitive, and the commission largely agreed.

But the substance of the commission’s case seems bizarre. "You can specify the performance you are looking for in a particular computer problem, but not a specification that can only be met by one manufacturer," says commission spokesman Jonathan Todd.

Quelle horreur! What next! Public authorities actually awarding contracts on the basis of excellence, innovation and superior performance. That would never do. What do you think we are – a competitive economy? Hence the approval of the move by AMD, whose spokesman Michael Simonoff purred, "It shows they (the commission) are committed to creating a level playing field."

Ah yes, forgot… the level playing field.

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