The European Commission (EC) confirms that officials have carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several battery and lead recycling firms. The inspections took place in multiple European countries.
The EC says the surprise inspections follow the belief that the companies concerned may have violated Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits cartels and restrictive business practices.
Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from national authorities.
According to the EC, unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. The fact that the EC carries out the inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anticompetitive behavior.
The EC does not have a legal deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies concerned co-operate and the exercise of the rights of defense.