THE WORLDWIDE MOVE to open markets seems to have gone unnoticed in some European companies, where cartel-thinking still holds sway.

Consider Europe's money-losing oil refiners. Thierry Desmarest, chairman of French oil company Total, told Reuters he was ready to work with other refiners to jointly cut capacity and boost industry profits. A British official echoed the same sentiment.European Union law generally bars cartel activity, so, presumably, regulators will be skeptical of this proposed scam. If Europe's oil refining industry is suffering from too much capacity, the answer is to let the market force the weaker companies out of business. The EU should send a strong message that cartel plotting won't be tolerated.

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