The Sony-BMG merger has won unconditional backing from the EU's competition commissioner Mario Monti , despite its previous concerns, and those of Apple, and others, that the deal may prove anti-competitive.

Reuters reports that EC competition commissioner Mario Monti approved the merger after meeting with BMG chairman and chief executive Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. The final decision remains to be made during a full European Commission meeting before July 22.

The EC had earlier argued the deal would strengthen the dominance of the major record companies by reducing their number to four from five, and that their collective dominance would mean they could align their pricing policies. Monti, however, decided the EC had failed to make this case.

The EC has until July 22 to act, and the US Federal Trade Commission is also expected to give its approval.