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Does the Belgian socialist Karel van Miert have a future? A mere 56 (he looks older), he should be poised for great things. One of the undoubted stars in a lacklustre commission, he browbeat Boeing into submission, hit Volkswagen with a record fine and stood up to the bullying of Helmut Kohl, who wanted the competition rules bent to help Deutsche Telekom and the German media groups run Europe’s pay-TV. But Belgian insiders suggest that van Miert may have a brilliant career behind him; he could soon be returning to his farm to nurture his treasured collection of pelargoniums.


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