Of all DGIV’s activities, merger control exemplifies competition policy’s potential for controversy. From ABB/Daimler Benz to Pirelli/Continental and from Rover/BMW to Aérospatiale/De Havilland, high-profile business restructuring has continued to excite media attention. The Commission’s merger policy is perhaps the most potent weapon at DGIV’s disposal. Yet this is a relatively recent addition to DGIV’s competition armoury, introduced only in 1990. This chapter begins, therefore, by explaining merger control’s late arrival on the European competition policy scene. It unpacks the rationale for and the procedures involved in the regulation of merger activity before looking at the impact the policy has had since the implementation of the Merger Control Regulation (MCR) in 1990. The chapter then looks at the problems troubling the merger regime and the criticisms it has had to face. It concludes with a brief account of efforts to reform the policy, paying particular attention to the Commission’s 1996 Green Paper and the most recent 1997 amendments to the merger rules.
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