© Pixabay/Toby Parsons
Michelin, Continental, Nokian, Goodyear… the list of tire brands covered by these “unannounced inspections”never stops stretching out. This Tuesday, members of the European Commission surprised engineers and salespeople in the head offices of various manufacturers.
For the moment no accusation has been made by the European Commission but in a press release the organization says it fears the existence of ’ #8217;a “price coordination”. This practice, anti-competitive in essence, is prohibited in Europe.
It allows the main sellers in a market to agree on a floor price, often causing their profits to explode, at the expense of the consumer. If this practice is illegal, several examples in recent history show that it exists well under the radar of regulatory bodies.
In a statement made to AFP, the French company Michelin acknowledges having been one of the companies targeted by this investigation but the Auvergne brand completely denies the European Commission's accusations. The brand specifies that it “ scrupulously applies competition rules in all countries in which it operates”.
Possible fines of several billion euros
L’Europe takes it very seriously issues related to price coordination and the formation of “cartels” in the economic sense of the term (establishment of an oligopoly between several sellers to maximize profits). The law on the old continent stipulates that a company which pleads guilty to such an offense would be penalized up to 10% of its annual turnover worldwide.
Taking the example of Michelin, if the French company were to be convicted, it could pay a record fine of 2.85 billion euros. However, it is good to remember that this investigation, although it is based on suspicion, is not a guarantee of guilt.
Innocent until proven guilty
Even the European Commission made a point of recalling this point in its press release. “Inspections do not mean that companies are guilty and do not prejudge the outcome of the investigation”. For now, the main tire manufacturers have, for the most part, reacted. They all deny these accusations of price coordination. The American Goodyear and the Finnish Nokian announced that they would “fully cooperate” with the authorities to remove all suspicions concerning them.
In its press release, the Commission assures that it is not aiming for the moment that new tires sold as replacements on various vehicle models ranging from passenger cars to vans, trucks and other buses.
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