Published: Oct 07, 2011 7:38 PM EDT

BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Commission has approved Microsoft Corporation's proposed $8.5 billion acquisition of the Internet voice and video communication provider Skype, saying the deal would not significantly impede competition in Europe.
    
The approval, announced Friday, appears to be the final step in the technology giant's effort to acquire Skype.
    
Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft, said in an emailed statement that the company is pleased with the decision.
    
Smith says it's "an important milestone," because the company has "now received clearance from both the United States and the European Union."
    
The European Commission is the EU's executive branch.

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