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EU competition tsar warns banks as MasterCard hits back

Neelie Kroes, the EU competition commissioner, has reminded banks and credit card providers from within the European Union that her office continues to stand poised to crack down on anticompetitive behavior. Meanwhile, MasterCard has suggested the commission's ongoing inquiry into the financial services sector is flawed.

Ms Kroes’ firm reminder comes as she has accused Europe’s retail banks of failing to make it easy for customers to switch accounts and suggested that barriers remain in the European banking sector, characterized by fragmentation on a national scale, the Guardian newspaper has reported.

The commissioner has also indicated that she thinks the biggest banks’ profits are too high and she has additionally warned the credit card industry to shape up.

The EU body’s inquiry found that in several countries banks enjoyed pre-tax profit margins around 40% and that profits were high in countries were customer switching was low.

However MasterCard, a major target of Ms Kroes’ scorn, has hit back by suggesting the Competition Commission’s inquiry into the banking and cards sectors is flawed by misunderstanding and the use of outdated and inaccurate information.