Officials from the European Commission have carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several power transformer producers in France, Germany and Austria to investigate suspicions of price fixing.

The function of power transformers is to reduce or to increase the voltage in an electrical circuit, and they are therefore key constituent components in electricity transmission and distribution networks. The commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated Article 81 of the EC Treaty, which prohibits practices such as price fixing.

Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. There is no strict deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate and the exercise of the rights of defense.

The commission said that no guilt regarding these matters has yet been determined.