Mergers must not raise prices, says EU competition chief

Mergers must not raise prices, says EU competition chief

Telecoms mergers must not lead to a price hike for consumers, warns Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s new competition commissioner.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Vestager stressed the importance of protecting consumer pricing: "I have one interest and that is to make sure that European consumers – that being citizens or businesses – can enjoy relatively innovative markets at affordable prices."

She also questioned whether consolidation could boost investment in networks: "Actually I have seen a number of examples of the opposite. So far it seems as if it is still competition that will lead to investment and not the other way round."

In comparison, Vestager said the US market has provided consumers with "very little choice and higher prices than we do in Europe in general."

Europe has seen a wave of consolidation in the past year, from the planned acquisition of Telefónica's O2 by Hutchison Whampoa in the UK to the purchase of Jazztel by Orange in Spain and the Telenor and TeliaSonera merger in Denmark.