Extracts from the press conference by Joaquín Almunia on the EC's decisions about LCD cartel, Visa and French chemists' association
The European Commission had taken three anti-trust Decisions that have been announced during the press conference by Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition.
The first one referred to a cartel on Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) panels which were used in televisions, computer monitors, and computer notebook screens. The Commission had fined six manufacturers of LCD panels a total of nearly €649 million. Joaquín Almunia explained that this was a very well organised cartel with monthly meetings called "the Crystal meetings" that agreed prices, including price ranges and minimum prices, and exchanged information in future production planning, capacity utilisation and trading conditions, which was clearly illegal under EU competition rules.
With the second decision, the Commission made Visa Europe's commitments to cut interbank fees for debit cards payments legally binding. Joaquín Almunia said that today's commitments decision brought concrete benefits to merchants, who were often small and medium size firms, and to consumers themselves.
Thirdly, the Commission had ruled against the "Ordre national des pharmaciens" (ONP) for restrictions on competition in the French clinical analysis market. The governing bodies of the ONP will have to pay a fine of 5€ millions for imposing minimum prices. Joaquín Almunia commented that this behaviour had damaged the interests of hospitals, insurances, public health, patients and taxpayers.