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IP/08/1591

Brussels, 28th October 2008

Mergers: Commission opens consultations on review of Merger Regulation

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the functioning of the EC Merger Regulation (Council Regulation 139/2004), which sets out the rules for merger control in the European Economic Area (EEA). The purpose of the review is to evaluate how the rules on jurisdictional thresholds and referral mechanisms have worked in practice during the fours years the Regulation has been applied. Based on the response to the consultation, the Commission's own experience in applying the Regulation and feedback from national competition authorities, the Commission will prepare a report to the EU Council of Ministers by July 2009. The Commission welcomes comments to the consultation up to 1st December 2008.

According to Articles 1(5) and 4(6) of the Merger Regulation, the Commission must report to the Council on the functioning of the jurisdictional thresholds provided for by Article 1(2) and 1(3) and the pre-notification referral mechanisms provided for by Articles 4(4) and 4(5) of the Merger Regulation by 1 July 2009.

The Commission's own experience indicates that the jurisdictional thresholds and the referral mechanisms have worked well overall. Since May 2004, around 160 referrals to the Commission and around 40 referrals to the Member States have been made at the request of notifying parties.

The Commission will analyse the outcome of the consultation in preparing its report, along with its own experience of applying the Regulation and feedback from national competition authorities and other sources.

Receiving feedback from stakeholders is a key element of this report. The Commission welcomes comments from the business community and their representatives as well as other stakeholders including industry associations and consumer interest associations who have had direct experience of the implementation of the Regulation

Comments can be addressed to the Commission before 1st December 2008 at:

European Commission

DG Competition

Merger Registry

B-1049 BRUSSELS

or by email to comp-merger-registry@ec.europa.eu

specifying the reference "HT.1277 – reply to public consultation"

The questionnaire is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/consultations/2008_12_merger_regulation.html

Background

One of the major achievements of the revised EU Merger Regulation, which took effect on 1 May 2004, was to strengthen the one-stop-shop for the control of mergers while at the same time ensuring that they are reviewed by the best placed competition authority. While the turnover thresholds for determining jurisdiction remained the same as under the previous Regulation, flexible mechanisms were introduced to enhance the possibilities for case re-allocation between the Commission and the Member States.

The referral mechanisms introduced in 2004 gave the merging parties the right to request the Commission to examine a transaction that was notifiable in at least three Member States, even when the thresholds for Commission review were not met. Conversely, the notifying parties were given the right to request a referral to the Member States when the transaction significantly affected competition in a market in that Member State if it presented all the characteristics of a distinct market.


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