PARIS -- A European Commission investigation into French carmaker Peugeot Citroen and its dealers involves possible "hardcore" breaches of competition law, a European Commission spokesman said on Monday.
"Limiting a dealer's freedom to supply foreign customers is a hardcore restriction of competition and free trade," said Tilman Lueder, spokesman for European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti.
Commission officials raided the offices of Peugeot Citroen in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark last week in connection with the inquiry into the firm's retailing policy.
A spokesman for the company said one of the raids had targeted the head office in Paris.
"It was to verify whether Peugeot's retailing policy corresponded to the regulations," he said.
Lueder said the case was no bigger than previous investigations concerning DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen.
Those ended in fines of $76.2 million and $95 million respectively, among the biggest handed down by the Commission's competition department.
The current case centred on French and German car-buyers travelling to Denmark and the Netherlands to buy Peugeot cars.
"The consumer has to have the choice to buy his vehicle where he wants in the European Community," Lueder said.
Lueder declined to say if the Commission thought the suspected anticompetitive practices were continuing and warned that it was premature to assume the firm was guilty or that the case would lead to formal proceedings.