The european Commission said Saturday 22nd July that it was reviewing reports of a possible cartel between the major German automobile manufacturers. “The european Commission and the Office of the German anti-cartel have received information on a possible cartel between the German car makers Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW and Daimler, “which are being examined by the Commission,” said the european executive, the guardian of Competition in Europe.
“At this stage, it is premature to speculate further,” said a spokesman for the european Commission. “The european Commission and national Competition authorities shall co-operate closely on this kind of business,” he added.
The result of this review, the european executive will decide whether or not to open an investigation which can last for several years, before a financial sanction does not fall.
The leniency policy to dismantle the cartels
The statements of the european Commission are the result of an article in the German weekly der Spiegel, according to which the major German car manufacturers Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW and Daimler, would have formed a cartel since the 1990s, working together, in particular on the reduction of polluting emissions of diesel cars.
The Spiegel claimed to derive this information, “a written document that the VW group has addressed to the authorities of competition” in July 2016, as “a kind of self-denunciation”. Daimler also will be self-denounced, ” says the weekly.
The cartels are banned in the EU, since they are harmful to competition and consumers. The european Commission can impose heavy fines on businesses that agree, the record having been reached on July 19, 2016. The EU had also imposed a fine of 2.93 billion euros in the four european manufacturers of trucks, accused to be heard during 14 years on the sale price of their heavy weight.
The policy known as “leniency,” conducted by the european Commission encourages companies to disclose internal evidence of the existence of a cartel. The first company is a member of a cartel that takes this approach is exempt from the fine. This strategy has proved to be very effective to dismantle the cartels.