The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by Italy's Unicredit bank of the German HypoVereinsbank (HVB), a multi-billion-euro merger that creates the ninth-biggest bank in Europe. "We examined the merger carefully in countries where both parties have significant activities," in particular Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, said EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes. "I am confident that consumers in those countries will not suffer due to any decreased level of competition in the, still national, markets," she said in a statement. She added that the clearance of the merger paves the way for the creation of a truly European bank, which would contribute to the establishment of a single European market for retail and corporate banking. Unicredit and HVB announced in June that they were tying the knot in a 15.4 billion euro ($18.6 billion) deal that will create the ninth-biggest bank in Europe and the fourth-biggest in the 12-country eurozone.