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Learning English - Words in the News
22 June, 2007 - Published 12:35 GMT
EU business competition
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There are fears that the treaty being debated by European leaders could reverse the policy of free competition for businesses across the European Union. The amendments no longer state this as one of the EU's objectives. This report from Alex Ritson:

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The European Union's competition authorities have been among the most aggressive in the world at breaking up monopolies. Airlines, telephone companies and energy companies are just a few of the industries that have been forced to allow their customers to choose to buy their services from someone else. And once competitors appear, the prices paid by customers tend to fall.

But that liberalisation often put the European Union into conflict with national governments, such as France and Germany, whose natural instinct was to protect industries that employed thousands of people.

Now the national governments are re-writing the EU's governing treaty and the draft version being considered by the EU's leaders in Brussels appears to scale back the commitment to a level playing field. Where the EU's previous treaties aspired to an 'open market economy with free competition', the new version describes a 'social market economy aiming at full employment'.

Alex Ritson, BBC

Listen to the words

breaking up monopolies
making companies that have complete control of an area of business lose it, so that other companies can have their share

forced to
made to do something against their will

natural instinct
the way someone normally reacts or behaves, without having to learn it or think about it

draft version
a document that is not yet final

to scale back
to make (something) smaller or less significant

pledge, undertaking

a level playing field
a situation where all parties have equal rights and opportunities

aspired to
had a strong desire or hope to do or have something

full employment
when all people who can work have jobs

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