20 September 2000

The European Commission is expected today to fine Adam Opel, General Motors’ main European subsidiary, for infringing EU rules on prices and sales practices.

Opel’s Dutch arm is likely to stand accused of blocking car sales to customers from outside the Netherlands, breaching single market regulations.

The row is part of the controversy over high car prices in areas of Europe, especially the UK. Customers often seek vehicles in different European countries where they cost less.

Carmakers are currently allowed a 'block exemption' by the EU, freeing companies from normal competition rules by allowing them to operate tied dealerships.

Mario Monti, EU competition commissioner, earlier this year accused car companies of showing little respect for this “very generous” exemption.

Five motor companies are currently under investigation by the EU. Aside from Opel, these are Volkswagen, which has already been forced to pay $87 million in a similar case, DaimlerChrysler, Peugeot and Renault.

News source: Financial Times