MEP Continues To Support Intel Amid EC Anti-Trust Case

European legal committee member Brian Crowley has publicly supported an Irish investment by Intel – which was recently fined €1 million for market abuse

The comments from Brian Crowley, MEP for The South, one of four European constituencies in Ireland, appear in a press release issued by Intel this week discussing the launch of a new Innovation Open Lab at the Intel Ireland campus in Leixlip, County Kildare.

The launch of the lab was also attended by Conor Lenihan, Ireland’s Minister for Science, Technology & Innovation as well as Dr. Martin Curley, global director, Intel IT Innovation and director, Intel Labs Europe. In a press release issued by Intel, Crowley praised Intel for its contribution to research and development in Ireland.

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“I am delighted to see the launch of the Ireland Innovation Open Lab. I know first hand the full extent of Intel’s research collaborations across Europe and their ambitious plans to further these partnerships,” said Crowley. “I would like to thank Intel Labs Europe for supporting this initiative in Ireland and finally, I hope that today we are seeing a glimpse of Ireland’s Smart Economy of the future.”

As well as being a member of the Committee on Industry, Research & Energy which looks at issues including information society and information technology across Europe, Crowley is also a substitute member of the Committee on Legal Affairs. The Committee’s remit includes “the interpretation and application of European law, compliance of European Union acts with primary law, notably the choice of legal bases and respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality”.

According to Intel, the new Ireland Innovation Open Lab will house around 30 researchers who will be working on “open innovation” supported by the EU Framework Program 7 which will put “Intel at the heart of European research”.

In May, the European commission fined the chip-maker €1 060 000 000 (£953m) for abusing its market position following an in-depth investigation prompted by complaints by rival AMD. According to the EC, the illegal activity took two forms. Firstly Intel gave rebates to computer vendors on the condition that they bought their x86 processors from the chip maker and made direct payments to one major retailer on the condition that only stocked PCs with Intel chips. The EC also claims that Intel made payments to computer makers to delay the release of products using alternative x86 processors.

“Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years. Such a serious and sustained violation of the EU’s antitrust rules cannot be tolerated,” said EC competition commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Crowley’s latest support for Intel follows comments made in January this year, linked to on his website, made at an event organised by the Irish MEP to celebrate Intel’s involvement in Ireland’s high tech sector. “Craig Barrett, Global Head of Intel was the guest speaker at a conference that I organised for 130 Irish and EU companies on the issue of how best can Europe use technology and research programmes to stimulate job creation,” the statement reads. ” Intel is Ireland’s biggest multi-national company. It is clearly the case that Intel rightly sees new technologies and innovation as the way forward for its own company development so as to be a global leader in these policy areas and create more jobs.”

Intel filed an appeal on 22 July, claiming the EC’s ruling did not take into account the realities of the highly competitive processor marketplace, which has resulted in lower prices and better products for consumers and businesses, according to a spokesman. “In real terms, microprocessor prices have fallen faster than the prices of any other product tracked by the US government,” Intel spokesman Bill Kircos said in a statement at the time. “Similar research supports this worldwide including Europe.

In April this year, Crowley presented a report to the European Parliament proposing an extension of music copyright from 50 to 95 years. The European Parliament eventually backed a plan to extend copyright to 70 years despite criticism.

“The current differences in term of protection, particularly between Europe and the US, cause legal uncertainty and piracy, especially in the digital environment, where there are no boundaries,” said Crowley MEP. “The extended term would also benefit the record producers. It would generate additional revenue from the sale of records in shops and on the Internet.”

Mr Crowley’s office and the European Commission were contacted for comment but did not reply in time for this article.

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