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Bruxelles, 14 April 2003

Spokesperson's statement on inspections in the chemical sector

Following press inquires, the European Commission's competition spokesperson can confirm that Commission inspectors, assisted by officials from four national competition authorities, on 25 March 2003 carried out a series of simultaneous and unannounced inspections at the premises of the major European producers of the following chemical products: hydrogen peroxide, softening agents, solvents and methacrylates.

The purpose of these inspections is to ascertain whether there is evidence of suspected price fixing, market- and customer allocation, and exchange of confidential commercial information in relation to sales of the above mentioned chemical products.

This is only the first step in the Commission's investigation which concerns suspected anti-competitive behaviour involving producers in several European countries.

The investigation is at a preliminary stage and does not prejudge the final outcome. There is no fixed timetable for concluding antitrust investigations which depends on a number of factors, including the evidence uncovered by the Commission, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate and the complexity of each case.

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