EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes insisted last week that she had very good relations with UK Finance Minister Gordon Brown despite his call to set up an independent panel of experts to identify barriers to competition in the single market and recommend where the Commission should take action.She had, she said, been invited to 11 Downing Street for “a cup of coffee to discuss competition policy”. Which doesn’t sound like much of a social life.Brown recently appointed Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman, to a high-level panel of business leaders to advise him on globalisation. The Commission is currently in a fight with Gates’ company in one of the biggest antitrust cases in the EU’s history. The next round of the battle begins at the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg on Monday (24 April).On the other hand, Gates has been invited to take a starring turn at the Brussels Economic Forum on 18 May, organised by the Commission’s department of economic and monetary affairs, talking about competition and innovation. An opportunity, surely, for another cup of coffee.