The European Commission has approved the proposed creation of a joint venture between First Data Corporation of the United States and Allied Irish Banks. The joint venture will be active in the payment card services market and, more specifically, in merchant acquiring and payment card processing. The parties' activities in merchant acquiring overlap in three EU Member States—Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom—but do not exceed 15 per cent in any of these countries. The parties' combined share of the merchant acquiring sector in the European Economic Area (EEA) would be less than 1 per cent. As regards payment card processing, there are no significant overlaps and there are strong competitors in all Member States in which the parties' activities overlap. The Commission therefore concluded that the operation would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA, or in any substantial part of it.