$85.4 billion deal still on track to close later this year.

AT&T on Wednesday announced that the European Commission has approved its $85.4 billion (€80.4 billion) acquisition of Time Warner.

The deal still requires the blessing of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), but the green light from Europe is nevertheless an important step in the right direction for the telco.

"This is an important approval from a highly respected authority," said Bob Quinn, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs at AT&T.

"The global clearance process is on track, and we look forward to creating a company that will lead the next wave of innovation in the media and telecommunications industries," he said.

Provided the DoJ doesn’t block the deal, AT&T expects to complete the transaction later this year.

AT&T agreed to acquire media giant Time Warner in October last year.

When the deal was struck, concerns were raised about the potential for AT&T to discriminate against rival content owners trying to distribute programming over the telco’s networks.

The last time a big network operator merged with a major content player was in 2009, when Comcast bought NBCUniversal. That controversial tie-up was subject to a 13-month review process before it was granted conditional approval.

However, the mood in the U.S. has since changed with the election of Donald Trump as president, because his administration is generally in favour of deregulation and cutting red tape.

As such, it is expected that the AT&T-Time Warner deal will get the go-ahead, turning the telco into a content powerhouse.