Newspaper article International New York Times

Europe Fines Truck Makers for Colluding to Fix Prices ; Penalty of EUR 2.9 Billion Sets Tone for Tougher Antitrust Actions in Bloc

Newspaper article International New York Times

Europe Fines Truck Makers for Colluding to Fix Prices ; Penalty of EUR 2.9 Billion Sets Tone for Tougher Antitrust Actions in Bloc

Article excerpt

The $3.2 billion penalty comes less than a week after the bloc's antitrust chief announced a new round of charges against Google.

The European Union's antitrust chief imposed a record fine of 2.9 billion euros on a group of truck makers on Tuesday, part of a trend toward steeper penalties for competition violations in the bloc.

The fine, equal to $3.2 billion, focused on truck makers' efforts to fix prices and to delay the installation of pollution-curbing exhaust pipes and engines. The decision came less than a week after the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-member European Union, announced a new round of antitrust charges against Google on suspicion that some of the company's advertising products had restricted consumer choice.

"We have, today, put down a marker by imposing record fines for a serious infringement," Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's competition commissioner, said in a statement.

"For 14 years, they colluded on the pricing and on passing on the costs for meeting environmental standards to customers," the statement continued. "This is also a clear message to companies that cartels are not accepted."

Among the companies cited in the statement for having broken antitrust rules is the truck maker MAN, which is owned by Volkswagen. MAN is not among the companies being fined, however, as it revealed the existence of the cartel.

Still, the announcement brought more bad news for Volkswagen, which has been embroiled in a diesel emissions scandal that began in the United States, and which recently set aside $14.7 billion to compensate customers there for having installed software that made its vehicles seem to pollute less than they were.

In the statement, the commission said it did not find any links between the cartel and so-called defeat devices installed by Volkswagen in passenger cars.

The truck makers being fined are DAF, Daimler, Iveco and Volvo- Renault. Daimler faces the largest single fine, and it must pay slightly more than EUR 1 billion, also a record.

Together, the five companies account for about nine in 10 medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe, the commission said. …

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