A ruling by the European Court of First Instance has flatly rejected the analysis and judgments made by the European Commission about drinks packaging when it last year banned the proposed merger between the Tetra Laval group, world leader in carton packaging, and the French company Sidel, which designs and manufactures plastic bottles.

"The economic analysis of the immediate anti-competitive effects, of conglomerate effects and of the foreseeable conduct of the companies in question is based on insufficient evidence and some errors of assessment," the Court said in striking down the Commission's decision.

Brussels had banned the merger saying that it could have "negative repercussions on competition" in several drink packaging markets. But in a step-by-step repudiation of the case made by the Commission's competition authorities, the Court takes a quite different view, stating there were "a number of defects in its analysis (notably in regard to beer and juices) and errors of assessment."