The European Commission (EC) has fined international brewing company AB InBev €200.4m as the company prevented cheaper beer imports from the Netherlands into Belgium.

EC’s decision came after a three-year investigation into AB InBev’s Jupiler brand in Belgium which has a 40% market share.

In June 2016, EC opened an antitrust investigation on the company to investigate if it used its dominant position on the Belgian beer market by hindering imports of its beer from neighbouring countries.

EC noted that AB InBev pursued a deliberate strategy to restrict the possibility for supermarkets and wholesalers to buy Jupiler beer at lower prices in the Netherlands and to import it into Belgium.

This way the company could maintain higher prices in Belgium by limiting imports of less expensive beer products from the Netherlands.

EC Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “Consumers in Belgium have been paying more for their favourite beer because of AB InBev’s deliberate strategy to restrict cross border sales between the Netherlands and Belgium.

“Attempts by dominant companies to carve up the Single Market to maintain high prices are illegal.”

“Attempts by dominant companies to carve up the Single Market to maintain high prices are illegal. Therefore we have fined AB InBev €200m for breaching our antitrust rules.”

Jupiler is reported to be AB InBev’s established beer brand in Belgium market. The company sells the beer to other EU member states, including France and the Netherlands.

The anti-competitive practice is believed to have taken place between February 2009 and October 2016.

AB InBev co-operated with the investigation, admitted wrongdoing and agreed on a remedy. Its fine was cut by 15%.