Brussels, 21-6-2013 — /europawire.eu/ — The European Commission can confirm that on 18 June 2013 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in the sector of cargo train transport services to South Eastern Europe. Inspections took place in several Member States. The Commission has reasons to believe that the companies concerned may have violated Article 101 of the TFEU, which prohibits anticompetitive practices such as price fixing and customer allocation.
The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.
The inspections relate to the provision of cargo transport services by operators of block trains who also operate as shipping agents. Block trains bundle cargo on one or more trailers from different origins into a single train at certain loading hubs and take this cargo directly to certain unloading hubs, where they are again split up for transport to the final destination.
Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. The fact that the European Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour; nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The European Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.
The Commission does not make public the names of the companies inspected at this stage.
There is no strict deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate and the exercise of the rights of defence.