European commissioners are set to agree the merger of BMG and Sony as soon as next week, despite protests from competitors, the independent labels and Apple.

EU competition commissioners could agree the merger by July 20, according to Billboard.

Once approved, the merged companies will become the world's second-largest music label, with Universal the largest.

Both parties must still secure permission from US authorities for the deal from the Federal trade Commission (FTC).

Apple had argued that the merged company "could use its dominance to prevent artists signing up to the service, forcing consumers to switch to rivals such as Sony's Connect to hear what they want".

The Lawyer reports that permission was granted despite strenuous protests because "since the Commission turned down the EMI-Time Warner merger, the rise of piracy has made the music sector a significantly tougher market".a