EU truck­mak­ers gear up for col­lu­sion charges

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Sapa-dpa

SEV­ERAL Euro­pean heavy­weight truck man­u­fac­tur­ers face the threat of hefty fines, after the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion an­nounced yes­ter­day that it was prob­ing them for “very se­ri­ous” breaches of EU com­pe­ti­tion law.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion fo­cuses on a “large” num­ber of firms that make heavy- and medium-duty trucks, used mainly in road freight trans­port. They are sus­pected of hav­ing “agreed or co-or­di­nated their pric­ing be­hav­iour”, ac­cord­ing to the EU’s ex­ec­u­tive.

The com­mis­sion did not say which firms were in­volved, but Swe­den’s Volvo and Ger­man firms Daim­ler and MAN con­firmed yes­ter­day that they were un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

EU Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sioner Mar­grethe Vestager said the need to boost eco­nomic growth and em­ploy­ment in Europe made it even more im­por­tant to crack down on il­le­gal business prac­tices.

“It’s ob­vi­ous that keep­ing the cost of road trans­porta­tion high has a domino ef­fect on the rest of the econ­omy,” Vestager said.

More than 600 000 firms op­er­ated in the Euro­pean road freight sec­tor, em­ploy­ing just four em­ploy­ees on av­er­age, the com­mis­sioner said.

Vestager said that some com­pa­nies were co-op­er­at­ing with the in­quiry, adding how­ever that the sever­ity of the in­frac­tions would make it ”ex­tremely dif­fi­cult” to reach set­tle­ments with any firms found to be at fault.

The com­mis­sion yes­ter­day is­sued state­ments of ob­jec­tions – let­ters in­form­ing com­pa­nies of the com­plaints against them – after car­ry­ing out spot checks in early 2011.

The com­pa­nies now have a chance to re­spond to the is­sues raised.

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