An adviser to the European Court of Justice has said judges should uphold an €35.5 million fine imposed on General Motors’ European subsidiary Opel for blocking exports of cheap cars.
Dow Jones said the ruling is one in a series of judgments on fines the commission imposed on European car makers in an effort to reduce their influence on contracted dealership.
The Opel case dates from 2000 when the European Commission fined Opel’s Dutch arm €43 million, arguing it put barriers in the way of direct export of cars to other countries.
Opel appealed to the European Court of First Instance. The court upheld the charges against Opel but reduced the fine to €35.5 million.Opel has now taken the matter to the highest European court, claiming that the lower court distorted evidence. The company says it only adopted certain individual measures to improve sales and denies the existence of a general strategy designed to block all exporting.
Antonio Tizzano, the advocate general who is now advising the highest European court in the case, dismissed Opel’s arguments.
In a written opinion, Tizzano reportedly argued that Opel explicitly admitted the adoption of a strategy “aimed at preventing, or at least reducing, export sales.”
The full court follows the advocate general’s opinion about 80% of the time, Dow Jones noted.