ICC POLICY STATEMENT

ICC Comments on EU White Paper on Merger Control

ICC welcomes the opportunity which it is granted to submit comments on this White Paper, but also wishes to seize the opportunity to go a step further and identify potential strategic evolution paths for the forthcoming renovation of the EUMR.

On 9 July 2013, the EC issued a White Paper under the heading: “Towards more effective EU merger control” which follows the report addressed by the EC to the EU Council of Ministers in 2009 and the 2013 Staff Working Document dated 25 June 2013. The White Paper provisions include an eye-catching proposal to extend the EC’s powers of review to acquisitions of non-controlling stakes where there is a competitive link. The reforms would also make case referrals between the EC and EU Member States more effective, and make certain procedures less onerous (including exempting review of joint ventures that operate only outside the EEA).

Against this background, ICC welcomes the opportunity which it is granted to submit comments on this White Paper, but also wishes to seize the opportunity to go a step further and identify potential strategic evolution paths for the forthcoming renovation of the EUMR. While a lot has already been done, ICC believes that two priorities should be embraced: a broad simplification of the EU merger control system itself and a dramatic adaptation of merger controls in general to the reality of the Internal Market, which implies that a true reform must extend to the role of NCAs and not be limited to the role of the EC. Achieving those European objectives will also allow the European Union to regain its status as role model by showing to the world that an efficient merger control system in a large geographic area does not need to be complicated or uselessly burdensome.

Beyond the comments it entails as regards the proposals made by the White Paper, this response paper highlights a number of specific issues, based on practical experience from ICC members, that have been identified and encountered during the decade which has elapsed since the EUMR was adopted. The paper is hence divided between comments ICC wishes to submit regarding proposals made by the White Paper (2) and further reaching propositions as regards future improvements of merger control in Europe (3), both at EU and Member State levels.

Summary

I. Introduction
II. An interesting White Paper which unfortunately overlooks key issues
III. Against the EC’s minimalistic approach, ICC calls for a major overhaul of the current merger control system
IV. Promoting legal certainty in the field of Merger Control
V. Conclusion