Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 7–31 | Cite as

A Fresh Look at the EU Merger Regulation? The European Commission’s White Paper “Towards More Effective EU Merger Control”



On 9 July 2014 the European Commission published the White Paper “Towards more effective EU merger control”. The White Paper takes stock of the working of the EU Merger Regulation 10 years after the last reform in 2004. It evaluates what degree of coherence and convergence has been achieved in the application of merger control rules and practices at the EU and at Member State level. The White Paper supports recent suggestions to move towards a “European Merger Area”, in which the Commission and national competition authorities (NCAs) apply the same rules to mergers and acquisitions, but does not make concrete proposals in that respect. However, the White Paper proposes amendments to the Merger Regulation in two main areas. First, in order to address an enforcement gap in EU competition law with respect to acquisitions of non-controlling minority shareholdings, the Commission should have the possibility to review certain minority stake transactions creating a “competitively significant link” between the acquirer and the target, without however making all acquisitions of minority shareholdings subject to the prior notification obligation. Second, the system for referring merger cases between the Commission and NCAs should be streamlined in order to reduce the administrative burden on companies and better ensure that cases are being dealt with by the best placed competition authority. Additional proposals made by the White Paper relate to removing joint ventures established outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and with no effect on EEA markets from the scope of the Merger Regulation and alleviating notification obligations for certain categories of unproblematic mergers.


European Union law Competition law Merger Regulation European Commission National competition authorities Non-controlling minority shareholdings Case referrals 


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Copyright information

© European Union  2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mergers Case Support and Policy UnitEuropean CommissionBrusselsBelgium

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