The European Commission has made a formal apology to the FIA yesterday. "The Commission regrets that statements were made which have been understood as prejudging issues relating to the FIA. The Commission also regrets that copies of a [confidential] letter were distributed to some journalists, and will see to it that this does not happen in the future," an executive of the EC said.
The FIA sued the European Commission a year ago for slander, claiming that the European Competition Commissioner, Karel Van Miert, has made remarks with have damaged the reputation of the FIA. The Motorsport governing body also complained that a warning letter from the EC to the FIA was leaked to The Financial Times, back in December 1997.
Yesterday, after the EC apologised, the FIA's lawyer, Stephan Kinsella, said: "We're glad that at last they managed to apologise. It's unfortunate it took them 16 months to admit they were wrong and that we had to spend so much time and money to get an apology." And in a statement released by the FIA, it said it now hopes the EC's apology will lead to the start "of a new era of rational dialogue."
"The FIA has never claimed to be perfect," the FIA statement said. "But a system which results in each Grand Prix being available free of charge on live television to every citizen of the EU should never have been attacked out of hand."