European Union Reforms Merger Rules

Jan. 13, 2005
By John S. McClenahen In about 18 months, on May 1, 2004, the European Union (EU) could be operating under a new set of merger rules. The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, has approved reforms that include liberalizing the time frames for ...
ByJohn S. McClenahen In about 18 months, on May 1, 2004, the European Union (EU) could be operating under a new set of merger rules. The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, has approved reforms that include liberalizing the time frames for notifying the Commission of a proposed merger and for the conduct of merger investigations, appointing a peer-review panel for "in-depth" merger investigations, giving companies earlier access to the third-party comments on a proposed merger, and adding a chief competition economist to the merger investigation team. The proposed reforms require approval by EU ministers. The Commission has also just issued a draft notice on how it expects to deal with so-called horizontal mergers, those between competing companies. Notably it includes a list of conditions -- including buyer power, ease of market entry, efficiencies, and close down of a company -- that might mitigate an initial finding of harm to competition. The draft is open for public comment until the end of March 2003.

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