EU truckmakers gear up for collusion charges
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.