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Gates in secret meeting with head of EC

Prodi comes under fire for taking tea with the Great Stan

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Bill Gates is to meet the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, this afternoon, although the exact reason why remains a mystery. A spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed that the meeting was due to take place at 3.00pm but insisted there was "no specific point" to the meeting. They are just to talk about things "in general" and there are no plans as yet to make public the mutterings of this little tete-a-tete. So, just to get this straight, the head of the world's biggest software company is just swinging by to meet the big cheese of Euroland to discuss nothing in particular over a pot of tea this afternoon. How terribly civilised. Unfortunately, those brothers -- and sisters -- in arms at the Euro pressure group Save the Web doesn't see it like that. In a statement issued yesterday, Save the Web said it wants the detail of the private meeting to be made public. It also attacked Microsoft's record on open standards, criticising the company on how its approach has done little to help the development of the Net. Save the Web also mauled Prodi for agreeing to talk to Gates in the first place. In language that could at best be interpreted as protectionist -- and at worst bordering on xenophobic -- it questioned why Europe would want to speak to an American company in the first place. "Save the Web points out that Microsoft has never been in the vanguard of open standards and that this has not helped the Internet revolution and that Mr Gates cannot speak for the European Internet community," the statement rambled. "Save The Web urges Mr Prodi to pay at least as much attention to the European Internet community as to the American Chairman of Microsoft." No one from Save the Web was available for comment this morning. ®

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