Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. (Photo：European Commission)
Brussels (People's Daily) - The EU Commission on Wednesday announced it was fining seven companies €546 million ($672 million) in three separate cartel settlements related to the auto industry.
In one decision, the EU Commission fined four maritime car shippers €395 million. In another, two suppliers of spark plugs were fined €76 million. In the remaining decision, two suppliers of auto braking systems were fined €75 million. The companies were all found to have taken part in cartels, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that the cartels have damaged European consumers by raising transport and component costs while hurting the competitiveness of Europe’s automotive sector, which employs around 12 million people.
"The three separate decisions taken today show that we will not tolerate anticompetitive behavior affecting European consumers and industries," said the commissioner.
The EU Commission found that the Chilean maritime carrier CSAV, the Japanese carriers 'K' Line, MOL and NYK, and the Norwegian-Swedish carrier WWL-EUKOR participated in a cartel concerning intercontinental maritime transport of vehicles, and imposed a total fine of €395 million.
"The commission's investigation started with an immunity application submitted by MOL. During its investigation, the commission cooperated with several competition authorities around the world, including in Australia, Canada, Japan and the US," the EU Commission said in the statement.
In second decision, the commission found that Germany’s Bosch and Japan’s Denso and NGK participated in a cartel concerning supplies of spark plugs to car manufacturers in the European Economic Area.
"The last of today's decisions is about hydraulic and electronic braking systems. It involves two cartels, one between Bosch, Continental and TRW, and one involving only Bosch and Continental," said Vestager.
Denso and TRW received immunity for exposing the cartels.
All companies acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the cases.
According to local media outlet New Europe, the commission's decisions on the spark plug and braking system cartels are part of a series of major investigations into powerful lobbies in the automotive parts sector.
"The European Commission has already fined suppliers of various automotive supplies, including bearings, car wire harnesses, flexible foam, parking heaters, alternators and starters, air conditioning and engine cooling systems, lighting, and safety systems," New Europe reported.