EU Say Talks on Motor Sport Probe Going Well
Tuesday May 23rd, 2000
The European Commission said on Tuesday it had made good progress in recent talks with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) in its probe into whether motor racing's governing body broke EU antitrust rules.
"Our discussions are going well," Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said. "The FIA has made innovative and constructive proposals."
FIA President Max Mosley last month made new proposals to try to bring an end to the Commission's antitrust case against FIA, although neither FIA nor the Commission was willing to give any details of what had been suggested.
The two sides held intensive talks on the plans two weeks ago which had moved things forward, Torres said, although the Commission still needed more time to decide whether they met all its concerns.
She said it was not clear how long the case would drag on.
The Commission launched proceedings last June against the FIA and the Formula One companies run by FIA vice-president Bernie Ecclestone.
The Commission alleged the FIA had the power to prevent competition by threatening to withdraw the licences of circuit owners, teams and drivers.
The EU's antitrust watchdog also contested the notion that FIA should own the TV rights, transferred to Ecclestone and his ISC company for Formula One, to all championships bearing its name.
European Union Competition Commissioner Mario Monti's predecessor Karel Van Miert warned that unless the rules and contracts governing Formula One were changed, the organisers of Grand Prix racing could face heavy fines.
FIA filed its rules for EU regulatory approval in 1994. They remained largely unchallenged until 1997 when Ecclestone notified his own agreements with the FIA to seek legal clearance before the planned flotation of Formula One.
In March, Germany's EM.TV Merchandising took a 50 percent stake in Formula One, joining Ecclestone as co-owners in a cash and share deal worth around $1.65 billion.
EM.TV said on Tuesday it was waiting for the Commission to rule before moving to float the company.