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Brussels, 23rd April 2007

Antitrust: European Commission sends Statement of Objections to alleged participants in cartel for car glass

The European Commission can confirm that it has recently sent a Statement of Objections to a number of undertakings regarding their alleged role in a cartel for car glass. The Statement of Objections alleges that the undertakings concerned may have allocated customers and agreed on supply quotas and prices for most of the motor vehicle manufacturers in Europe, thereby restricting competition in the EEA market in violation of EC Treaty rules outlawing restrictive business practices (Article 81).

Car glass is made from float glass. Car glass products consist of different glass parts such as windscreens, sidelights (windows for front and rear doors), backlights (rear windows), quarter lights (small back windows next to rear door windows) and sunroofs. Car glass is a kind of safety glass that does not shatter into sharp pieces on impact (which could be dangerous to occupants of the vehicle in the event of an accident). It can be produced in different shapes, degrees of thickness and colours.

The preliminary conclusions outlined in the Statement of Objections are based on the results of inspections carried out on 22 and 23 February 2005 (see MEMO/05/63) and on 15 March 2005, on the Commission’s subsequent investigation and on information supplied under the Commission’s Leniency Notice (see IP/02/247 and MEMO/02/23 for information on the leniency notice then in force).

Procedural background

Statements of Objections are a formal step in EU antitrust investigations. After receiving such statements, companies have two months to defend themselves in writing. They can also ask the Commission to hear their case at an oral hearing which usually takes place about one month after the written reply has been received. Only after having heard the company's defence can the Commission take a final decision, which may be accompanied by fines of up to ten per cent of a company’s worldwide annual turnover. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge in any way the final outcome of the procedure.

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