A proposed settlement between Coca-Cola Co. and the European Commission to end a long-running antitrust case over fizzy drinks is not yet set in stone, the European Union's executive said on Monday. "The company Coca-Cola has submitted a very good undertaking ... that addresses the concerns made by customers and competitors alike," Competition spokesman Tilman Lueder told a news briefing. "It is a basis for us to conduct a first round of so-called informal market tests ... this undertaking is not yet cast in stone and that is why we are consulting the market", informs Reutres. According to United Press International, the European Commission appears to have won a concession from Coca-Cola over the U.S. company's marketing practices. The commission's investigation into the Atlanta company was triggered by a complaint from the PepsiCo and started with an unannounced inspection of Coca-Cola's European headquarters in 1999. The investigation focused on whether Coca-Cola offered incentives to retailers and used discount schemes to bar rival soft drinks from supermarket shelves, vending machines, coolers and bar drinks dispensers. Coca-Cola agreed Friday to alter its sales practices in some European markets, an offer likely to bring to an end a five-year investigation by the European Commission into whether the soft drinks giant was stifling retail competition. Coca-Cola Co. moved closer to settling a five-year European Commission antitrust probe after regulators said an offer from the world's biggest soft-drink maker to revamp its sales practices is ``very good.'' ``The commission is very satisfied with what is on the table,'' commission spokesman Tilman Lueder said about Coca-Cola's offer on Friday to make unspecified changes to its practices in the U.K., Germany, Austria, Belgium and Denmark. The commission will consult major customers and competitors for their reaction, Lueder said at a press conference in Brussels. Coca-Cola Chief Executive E. Neville Isdell, who took over in June, wants to resolve legal issues that dogged his two predecessors over the prior five years. The European Union began a probe in 1999, following a complaint by No. 2 rival PepsiCo Inc., into whether Coca-Cola is using rebates to persuade retailers to keep competing products off their shelves. Neither Coca-Cola nor the commission released details of the concessions, reports Bloomberg.
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