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Eight EU States Urge Brussels to Tackle Multinational Pricing Practices

 |  May 27, 2024

Eight European Union member states called on Brussels on Friday to crack down on multinational corporations that are unfairly restricting the sale of products across the bloc, a practice that forces European consumers to pay higher prices.

This appeal comes in the wake of the European Commission imposing a hefty antitrust fine of 337.5 million euros (US$366 million) on Mondelez International Inc, the American confectionery giant known for brands such as Toblerone and Oreo, for limiting cross-border sales of its chocolate products.

As the EU prepares for elections next month, the cost of living has become a crucial issue. European households have been grappling with high consumer prices due to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine. While inflation has decreased from its peak in late 2022, food prices remain stubbornly high.

Addressing these disparities within the single market is seen by several EU countries as a way to alleviate the financial burden on consumers. Led by the Netherlands, the coalition of eight nations argues that significant price differences for identical products exist within the EU. They are urging the European Commission to take action against large multinational companies that impose territorial restrictions, thereby preventing price uniformity across the bloc.

The seven other countries joining the Netherlands in this initiative are Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, and Slovakia. The issue was a key topic of discussion during a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels on Friday.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commissioner for Competition, announced that Brussels would begin with a “fact-finding mission” to thoroughly investigate the issue. “We need to figure out what tools are actually necessary to prevent territorial restrictions that make prices rise where they shouldn’t,” she said. The Commission, acting as the EU’s antitrust watchdog, will collaborate with member states to devise an effective solution.

Source: Taipei Times