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Price gaps in the EU: Luxembourg calls for measures

Eight European Union member countries, including Luxembourg, have called on Brussels to crack down on multinationals that illegally limit trade within the single market to inflate their prices to the detriment of consumers.
This call comes the day after a giant fine of 337.5 million euros was imposed by the European Commission on the American biscuit and chocolate giant, Mondelez, accused of having prevented retailers from buying its products in European countries. EU where prices are the lowest.

The cost of living is a hot topic in the run-up to the European elections (June 6-9). Companies are regularly singled out for having excessively increased their margins and profiting from the surge in inflation over the past two years, in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Eight EU states, led by the Netherlands, expressed concern in a joint document about price differences within the common market for identical products. They called on the Commission to “take action”.

The other seven countries associated with this call are Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg and Slovakia.

Free movement of goods

Illegal geographic constraints imposed by multinationals on retailers’ supplies cost European consumers more than 14 billion euros per year, underline the eight countries, referring to a study presented by the Commission in 2020.

“Bold measures must be adopted to ensure that the single market operates with greater competition and transparency for the benefit of consumers,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently demanded in a letter addressed to the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Brussels would start with a “fact-finding mission” and then “determine what tools are actually needed to prevent territorial restrictions that push prices up where they should not”.

The Commission will work with member states to find a solution, Vestager told reporters after the meeting.

The free movement of goods within the single market is a pillar of the European project.

“Removing trade barriers should be a key priority for the single market. This helps maintain fair retail prices for food and non-food products. This is particularly important in times of rising consumer prices,” said Dutch Economy Minister Micky Adriaansens.

This article is originally published on lequotidien.lu

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