Fabian Demicoli

Towards more effective EU merger control


The Commission
is seeking views on possible improvements of the EU Merger Regulation contained
in the White Paper "towards more effective merger control". The
proposals in particular include:

A light and tailor-made review of those
acquisitions of non-controlling minority shareholdings which could harm
competition. Companies can
acquire minority stakes in for example competitors and thereby influence their
behaviour and reduce competition in the market. The EU's merger rules currently
do not allow the Commission to examine these effects, while the rules of some
Member States allow national authorities to do so, as well as rules prevailing
in other major jurisdictions like the US or Japan. The envisaged reform would
ensure that the Commission can examine those transactions which may raise
competition concerns and have a cross-border impact within the EU. This would
ensure that all sources of harm to competition are covered and establish a
one-stop shop for these transactions. It would also not create a significant
extra regulatory burden for businesses, since only transactions that appear to
be problematic from a competition point of view would face review. Benign
investments and restructuring efforts would not be covered.

Making case referrals between Member States
and the Commission more business-friendly and effective. Under the proposals, the companies who notify a
merger could more easily refer a case to the Commission through a simpler
procedure. In addition, the rules for Member State requests to have a case
reviewed by the Commission would become more streamlined, to avoid parallel
investigations and better implement the one-stop shop principle. The new
procedure would also allow Member States to better cooperate amongst themselves
when they are not referring a case to the Commission.

Making procedures simpler. This can be achieved for example by excluding
certain non-problematic transactions from the scope of the Commission's merger
review, such as the creation of joint ventures that will operate outside the
European Economic Area (EEA) and have no impact on European markets.
Notification requirements for other non-problematic cases – currently dealt
with in a 'simplified' procedure – could be further reduced, cutting costs and
administrative burden for businesses.

Fostering coherence and convergence. The
White Paper takes stock of the use of current EU merger control rules and
proposes to reflect on ways to foster convergence between Member States with a
view to enhance cooperation and to avoid divergent decisions in parallel merger
reviews conducted by the competition authorities of several Member States.

 

For further information and to submit
your contribution, visit:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2014_merger_control/index_en.html

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