European Union antitrust authority launches investigation of some MasterCard fees, practices

The European Union has launched an antitrust investigation into some of MasterCard's payment fees.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm that acts as the antitrust authority, said Tuesday it has concerns that some of the U.S. company's interbank fees and related practices may violate competition rules.

Spokesman Antoine Colombani says interbank fees vary greatly across the 27-nation EU, with a card payment of 50 euros in the Netherlands costing 10 euro cents, but up to eight times that in Poland.

The Commission says rules hindering merchants from enjoying better terms offered by banks elsewhere may violate antitrust standards. It is also investigating fees charged to merchants when non-European card holders shop in Europe.

In 2007, the EU prohibited some of MasterCard's interbank fees. It is also investigating Visa.