Interbrew has been given the green light by the European Commission for deals that give it exclusive rights to supply Belgian outlets. However the EC has trimmed the scope of the deals and told the Belgian brewer that they can only cover certain beers.

The brewer either owns cafes and rents them out, or provides cafe owners with loans or rental equipment. The cafes in turn accept Interbrew as the sole provider of the company's beer.

Partly as a consequence of these arrangements Interbrew dominates the Belgian market with a 56% share of the hotel, restaurant and café/pub market.

However after reviewing this set up, the Commission has said that Interbrew's agreements with 7,000 outlets tied to it by loans would be limited to draught pils, while a further 3,000 outlets leased and sub-leased from the firm would only apply to draught beer.

"Consumers will now have additional choice of beer brands in more than 10,000 outlets which have so far been exclusively supplied by Interbrew," said European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti in a statement.

These changes the Commission believes will stop the agreements appreciably restricting competition. They will come into effect within two months, it said.