Microsoft’s contribution to the EU budget
Today the European Commission imposed a 561 million euros fine on Microsoft (roughly 37 euros per each of the 15 million copies of Windows that were sold in the EU in breach of the 2009 commitment).
As I said in a previous post, I don’t think anyone believes that Microsoft did this on purpose, so the amount of the fine might have come as a surprise to quite a few people (although not to those who participated in Nico’s poll yesterday).
In any case, this is the third time that Microsoft contributes to the EU Budget because of competition related matters. In total, it has paid approximately 2 billion euros.
[Btw, I couldn't help remembering Neelie Kroes statement after fining Intel 1 billion euros: “Intel´s latest advertising campaign proposes Intel as the sponsors of tomorrow; well, now they are the sponsors of the European tax payer” (two years ago we nominated the video of this speech to an Antitrust Oscar)].
When one hears about these figures it’s easy not to realize what numbers mean. So we’ve decided to help you become aware of what 2 billion represent:
According to the World Bank there are 41 countries in the world whose GDP is lower than 2.1 billion euros (approx 2.7 billion dollars).
With 2 billion euros the European Union could:
- Bail out banks in Cyprus (estimates say that it will cost up to 2 billion);
- Pay for a couple of ambitious science projects (like studying graphene and fighting brain disease);
- Buy the full squads of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona or Manchester United to represent DG Comp in the internal football championship;
- Buy half of an aircraft carrier (don’t know why they would want an aircraft carrier, or why they would only want half, but I’ve seen more absurd public spending…);
- Pay DG Comp’s budget (93,5 million euros) for 21 years;
- Develop the atomic bomb (not in today’s money, though; it cost 2 billion back in 1945).
- Buy a few Greek islands for its officials to go on holidays (the most expensive one I’ve seen here costs 150 million..). Odd thing, I saw an ad for Bahamas islands on sale, and there is a private islands magazine with a Fall/Winter catalog for islands (!)
- Produce all of the 10 most expensive films in history (Pirate’s of the Caribbean, Tangled, Spider-Man 3, John Carter, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Avatar, The Dark Knight Rises, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and The Avengers).
- Build the tallest building in the world to host DG Comp (it would be more impressive than the Madou Tower to which it is moving…the Burj Khalifa costed 1.5 billion). For my suggestion on how it could look like, see here