The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has cleared the way for a possible drinks packaging merger between Switzerland's Tetra Laval group, a leader in carton production, and French company Sidel, which makes plastic bottle manufacturing machines.

Judges upheld a ruling by the ECJ's Court of First Instance that the European Commission had been wrong to block the deal in 2001. Brussels had maintained that Tetra would use its muscle to encourage customers switching to PET plastic packaging for milk, fruit juices, still drinks, tea and coffee drinks to use Sidel's SBM machines.

But the junior court annulled this decision, accusing the Commission of "manifest errors of assessment".

Brussels appealed claiming the judges had exceeded their powers, but this argument has now been rejected by the senior ECJ.