The European Union’s competition chiefs tend to pick up nicknames. After “Steely Neelie” Kroes and “Super Mario” Monti, Brussels is still wondering about a suitable epithet for Joaquin Almunia. The former economist and politician from Spain was nominated as the EU’s new competition commissioner in late November.

Although he has worked in a prominent EU position for the past five years as the commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Almunia’s views on antitrust matters are not widely known. In client briefings, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton — arguably the two leading antitrust players in Brussels — both expect him to act much like his predecessor. Almunia will “continue Neelie Kroes’s hands-on policy approach,” says Freshfields, while Cleary elaborates: “There are no indications that he intends to deviate to any material extent from the policies of his predecessors.”

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