From the enforcer: Directorate General for Competition

EU: from the enforcer

Address: B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 29 91111 (switchboard, European Commission)
Fax: +32 2 29 55437 (for general questions, DG Competition)
Email: [email protected] (for general questions, DG Competition)

For queries relating to the response to this questionnaire:

Julia Brockhoff
Tel: +32 2 29 98749
Email: [email protected]

Contacts

Margrethe Vestager
Executive Vice President, and Commissioner Responsible for Competition Policy
https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/2019-2024/vestager_en

Olivier Guersent
Director General
Tel: +32 2 29 65414

Carles Esteva Mosso
Deputy Director General with special responsibility for state aid
Tel: +32 2 29 69721

Olivier Guersent (acting) / Linsey McCallum (from 1.10.2020)
Deputy Director General with special responsibility for antitrust
Tel: +32 2 29 65414

Cecilio Madero Villarejo
Deputy Director General with special responsibility for mergers
Tel: +32 2 29 60949

Pierre Régibeau
Chief Competition Economist
Tel: +32 2 29 95837

Pierre Régibeau (acting)
Acting Head of Unit CE.1: Chief Economist Team: ‘Empirical analysis in complex merger and antitrust cases’
Tel: +32 2 29 97954

Claes Bengtsson
Head of Unit CE.2: Chief Economist Team: 'Economic analysis in merger, antitrust and state aid cases'
Tel: +32 2 29 92094

(vacant)
Principal Adviser
Tel: +32 2 29 ….

Agata Mazurkiewicz
Assistant to the Director General with special responsibility for state aid
Tel: +32 2 29 97779

Tobias Maass
Assistant to the Director General with special responsibility for mergers and antitrust
Tel: +32 2 29 51851

Astrid Cousin
Head of Unit 01: Commission Priorities and Strategic Coordination
Tel: +32 2 29 66602

Directorate A

Inge Bernaerts
Director, Directorate A: Policy and Strategy
Tel: +32 2 29 51888

Maria Jaspers
Head of Unit A1: Antitrust Case Support and Policy

Jose Maria Carpi Badia
Head of Unit A2: Merger Case Support and Policy

Koen Van de Casteele
Head of Unit A3: State Aid Case Support and Policy
Tel: +32 2 29 69419

Anna Vernet
Head of Unit A4: European Competition Network and Private Enforcement

Eddy De Smijter
Head of Unit A5: International Relations and Task Force Third Country Subsidies

Directorate B

Anna Colucci
Director, Directorate B, Markets and Cases I Energy and Environment
Tel: +32 2 29 68319

Johannes Lübking
Head of Unit B1: Antitrust Energy, Environment

Nicola Pesaresi
Head of Unit B2: State Aid I

Christof Lessenich
Head of Unit B3: State Aid II

Hanna Anttilainen
Head of Unit B4: Mergers

Directorate C

Guillaume Loriot
Director, Directorate C: Markets and Cases II, Information, Communication and Media
Tel: +32 2 29 84988

Rita Wezenbeek
Head of Unit C1: Antitrust, Telecoms

Friedrich Wenzel Bulst
Head of Unit C2: Antitrust, Media

Nicholas Banasevic
Head of Unit C3: Antitrust, IT, Internet and Consumer Electronics

Krzysztof Kuik
Head of Unit C4: State Aid

Annemiek Wilpshaar
Head of Unit C5: Mergers

Thomas Kramler
Head of Unit C6: Antitrust: E-commerce and data economy

Directorate D

Maria Velentza (acting)
Acting Director, Directorate D: Markets and Cases II, Financial Services
Tel: +32 2 29 51723

Barbara Brandtner
Head of Unit D1: Antitrust, Payment Systems

Jean Bergevin
Head of Unit D2: Antitrust, Financial Services

Peer Ritter
Head of Unit D3: State Aid Financial Institutions I

Peer Ritter (acting)
Acting Head of Unit D4: State Aid Financial Institutions II

Andrea Bomhoff
Head of Unit D5: State Aid Financial Institutions III

Alberto Bacchiega
Head of Unit D6: Mergers

Directorate E

Paul Csiszar
Director, Directorate E: Markets and Cases IV, Basic Industries, Manufacturing and Agriculture
Tel: +32 2 29 84669

Rainer Becker
Head of Unit E1: Antitrust, Pharma and Health Services

Natalia Lazarova
Head of Unit E2: Antitrust, Consumer Goods, Basic Industries, Agriculture and Manufacturing

Eduardo Martínez Rivero
Head of Unit E3: State Aid: Industrial Restructuring

Thomas Deisenhofer
Head of Unit E4: Mergers

Philippe Chauve
Head of Task Force Food E-TF

Directorate F

Henrik Mørch
Director, Directorate F: Markets and Cases V, Transport, Post and Other Services
Tel: +32 2 29 50766

Daniel Boeshertz
Head of Unit F1: Antitrust, Transport, Post and Other Services

Sophie Moonen
Head of Unit F2: State Aid, Transport

Monique Negenman
Head of Unit F3: State Aid, Post and Other Services

Lucia Bonova
Head of Unit F4: Mergers

Directorate G

Cecilio Madero Villarejo (acting)
Acting Director, Directorate G: Cartels
Tel: +32 2 29 60949

Gerald Miersch
Head of Unit G1: Cartels I

Brigitta Renner-Loquenz
Head of Unit G2: Cartels II

Claudia De Cesaris
Head of Unit G3: Cartels III

Corinne Dussart-Lefret
Head of Unit G4: Cartels IV

Flavio Laina
Head of Unit G5: Cartels V

Directorate H

Karl Soukup
Director, Directorate H: State Aid: General Scrutiny and Enforcement
Tel: +32 2 29 67442

Hubert De Broca
Head of Unit H1: Infrastructure and Regional aid

Demos Spatharis
Head of Unit H2: R&D&I, IPCEI and Environment

Christina Siaterli
Head of Unit H3: Fiscal Aid

Kristine Liljeberg
Head of Unit H4: Enforcement and Monitoring

Max Lienemeyer
Head of Unit H5: Tax Planning Practices

Gereon Thiele
Head of Unit H6: Agriculture & Fisheries

Directorate R

Maria Velentza
Director, Directorate R: Horizontal Management
Tel: +32 2 29 51723

Sari Suurnakki (acting)
Head of Unit R1: Registry and Transparency

Sari Suurnakki
Head of Unit R2: Finance and Internal Compliance

Leontina Sandu
Head of Unit R3: Information Technology

Téa Broms
Head of Unit R4: Better Regulation, Planning and Internal Control, European Semester

Julia Brockhoff
Head of Unit R5: Communications Policy

Questions and answers

How long is the head of agency’s term of office?

The European Commission (the Commission) is made up of a College of Commissioners, the members of which are appointed for five years. Renewal of appointment as a member is possible.

When is he or she due for reappointment?

The term of the current College of Commissioners (including the Executive Vice President, and Commissioner Responsible for Competition Policy (the Commissioner)) expires in October 2024.

Which posts within the organisation are political appointments?

The Commissioner is a political appointment: like all commissioners, he or she is nominated by the President of the European Commission and appointed by the Council of the EU after confirmation by the European Parliament.

What is the agency’s annual budget?

The budget for 2019 was €111.4 million.

How many staff are employed by the agency?

At the end of 2019, DG Competition employed 760 permanent staff (officials and temporary agents). This figure excludes staff on fixed-term contracts and vacancies.

To whom does the head of the agency report?

The Competition Commissioner is a member of the College of Commissioners making up the European Commission. The Commission is an independent institution. Its decisions in the area of competition are subject to judicial review by the EU courts.

Do any industry-specific regulators have competition powers?

Not at EU level.

If so, how do these relate to your agency’s role?

Not applicable.

May politicians overrule or disregard authority’s decisions? If they have ever exercised this right, describe the most recent example.

No. Final decisions are made by the College of Commissioners, appointed as set out above. Neither the Council of Ministers nor the European Parliament can overrule or disregard Commission decisions.

Does the law allow non-competition aims to be considered when your agency takes decisions?

When acting under the antitrust and merger rules, the Commission applies only competition criteria. In the field of state aid, when examining whether a measure constitutes aid, the Commission only assesses the effects of the measure on competition and trade between EU member states. However, when assessing the compatibility of a given aid with the Treaty, the Commission takes into consideration other common interest objectives, such as the creation of jobs, environmental protection, cohesion policy or the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. The Commission carries out a balancing test to determine whether these positive effects outweigh the possible distortions of competition created by the state aid measure.

Which body hears appeals against the agency’s decisions? Is there any form of judicial review beyond that mentioned above? If so, which body conducts this? Has any competition decision by the agency been overturned?

Every Commission decision is subject to judicial review on all points of fact and law by the EU courts (General Court and Court of Justice) in Luxembourg. General Court rulings may be appealed on points of law to the European Court of Justice. The Commission has a policy of systematically reviewing court judgments, including those on procedural issues, to ensure that appropriate lessons are learned for the future.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

The Commission has blocked 30 transactions out of 7544 since 1989. This represents less than 0.5 per cent of the number of cases notified. The three most recent prohibition decisions were adopted in 2019, in cases Siemens/Alstom, Wieland/Aurubis Rolled Products/Schwermetall and Tata Steel/Thyssenkrupp/JV.

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

The Commission has imposed conditions in 452 cases since 1989. This represents around 6 per cent of the number of cases notified.

In 2019, 16 cases were approved subject to remedies. 10 of them were approved within Phase I proceedings:

  • M.9094 Amcor/Bemis (11/02/2019);
  • M.9110 Amerra /Mubadala /Nireus/Selonda (14/10/2019);
  • M.9163 Da Agravis Machinery /Konekesko Eesti /Konekesko Latvija /Konekesko Lietuva /Konekesko Finnish Agrimachinery Trade Business (25/03/2019);
  • M.9196 Marsh & Mclennan Companies /Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (22/03/2019);
  • M.8948 Spirit/Asco (20/03/2019);
  • M.9234 Harris Corporation/L3 Technologies (21/06/2019);
  • M.9287 Connect Airways/Flybe (05/07/2019);
  • M.9274 Glaxosmithkline/Pfizer Consumer Healthcare Business (10/07/2019);
  • M.9449 Vag/Varta (03/12/2019); and
  • M.9331 Danaher/Ge Healthcare Life Sciences Biopharma (18/12/2019).

Six of them were approved within Phase II proceedings:

  • M.8674 BASF/Solvay’s EP and P&I Business (18/01/2019);
  • M.8947 Nidec/Whirlpool (Embraco Business) (12/04/2019);
  • M.8864 Vodafone/Certain Liberty Global Assets (18/07/2019);
  • M.8870 E.On/Innogy (17/09/2019);
  • M.9076 Novelis/Aleris (01/10/2019); and
  • M.9064 Telia Company/Bonnier Broadcasting Holding (12/11/2019).

Has the authority conducted a Phase II investigation in any of its merger filings? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

The Commission has opened a total of 2745 Phase II investigations since 1989.

In 2019, six cases required remedies following an in-depth Phase II investigation, three cases were prohibited following a Phase II Investigation and no cases were cleared unconditionally following a Phase II Investigation.

Has the authority ever pursued a company based outside your jurisdiction for a cartel offence? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

Yes, the Commission has pursued companies based outside the EU in several cases.

Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) prohibits cartels or other anticompetitive agreements, which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the EU. The Commission therefore may fine companies that are based outside the EU if the anticompetitive behaviour is either implemented inside the EU or produces effects inside the EU, or when a parent company outside the EU is liable for the conduct of an EU subsidiary.

Recent cases include a cartel involving ethylene purchasers (the four companies were from the US (two), from Mexico and from Switzerland) and two foreign exchange spot trading cartels (in the first case two were from the US, one from Switzerland and two from the UK and for the second one, one from Switzerland, one from Japan and two from the UK).

The first decision was adopted on 14 July 2020 and the two others on 16 May 2019.

Do you operate an immunity and leniency programme? Whom should potential applicants contact? What discounts are available to companies that cooperate with cartel investigations?

Yes, the European Commission operates a leniency programme for cartels. If a company wishes to discuss a potential application under the European Commission’s leniency programme, it can call +32 2 298 41 90 or +32 2 298 41 91 (telephones are monitored from 9am to 5pm on working days (in Brussels)). If a company wants to submit an application, it can do so through the dedicated email address comp­[email protected] Applications can also be made orally by appointment.

The first company to provide sufficient evidence of a cartel to allow the Commission to pursue the case can receive full immunity from fines. Subsequent companies that bring significant added value to the investigation receive reductions within bands according to the order in which they qualify:

  • second applicant 30 to 50 per cent;
  • third applicant 20 to 30 per cent; and
  • subsequent applicants up to 20 per cent.

The precise reduction within the band is determined by the extent of the added value brought by the company. The grant of immunity or reduction is always subject to the company complying with its duty to fully cooperate with the Commission throughout the investigation.

In 2017, the Commission launched a new anonymous whistle-blower tool to make it easier for individuals to alert the Commission about secret cartels and other antitrust violations while maintaining their anonymity. The whistle-blower tool is accessible from this website http://ec.europa.eu/competition/cartels/whistleblower/index.html.

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it? Does the authority conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity? If not, is there another authority in the country that does?

No, not at European level. However, some EU member states have criminal sanctions available (see individual sections).

Are there any plans to reform the competition law?

Antitrust

Block Exemption Regulations

The review of several antitrust rules is ongoing in view of their upcoming expiry and in order to ensure that they are up-to-date and provide sufficient guidance to companies. The ongoing evaluation is based on the following criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and EU added value. Upon the conclusion of the evaluation process, the Commission will decide on the future regimes applicable to each of the Block Exemption Regulations (BER) mentioned below.

The purposes of the BER are to exempt from the prohibition contained in article 101(1) of the Treaty those agreements (respectively vertical, on motor vehicle distribution and aftersales, and horizontal (specialisation and research and development)) for which it can be assumed with sufficient certainty that they satisfy the conditions of article 101(3) of the Treaty.

In October 2018, the Commission launched the review of the rules applicable to vertical agreements contained in Commission Regulation (EU) No. 330/2010 (the VBER), adopted in April 2010 and expiring on 31 May 2023. The accompanying Guidelines on Vertical Restraints which provide guidance on the interpretation of the VBER and article 101 of the Treaty are part of the review. In 2019, a public consultation aimed at gathering stakeholder feedback was organised.

In December 2018, the Commission launched the review of motor vehicle distribution and after-sales agreements contained in Commission Regulation (EU) No. 461/2010 (the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation), adopted in May 2010 and expiring on 31 May 2023.

In September 2019, the Commission launched the review of the rules applicable to horizontal cooperation. These include Commission Regulations (EU) No. 1217/2010 (Research & Development Block Exemption Regulation - R&D BER) and 1218/2010 (Specialisation Block Exemption Regulation - Specialisation BER), both adopted in December 2010 and expiring on 31 December 2022. The accompanying Commission Guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements which provide guidance for the interpretation of the Block Exemption Regulations and for the application of article 101 of the Treaty to other horizontal agreements are part of the review. In 2019, a public consultation aimed at gathering stakeholder feedback was organised.

New Competition Tool

In addition, the Commission is also exploring possible new avenues for ex ante and ex post intervention. Among other things, as follow-up to the report of the Special Advisers to Commissioner Vestager on “Competition policy for the digital era”, the Commission is exploring rules to address market imbalances, to ensure that consumers have the widest choice and that the EU single market for digital services remains competitive and open to innovation. One possible avenue for doing this would be ex ante regulation with clear-cut prohibitions and obligations for a well-defined circle of digital gatekeepers. Given that a regulation can only be limited in scope, the Commission is also exploring the deployment of a New Competition Tool. Such a tool could allow, for instance, intervening with respect to anticompetitive behaviour by powerful but non-dominant players in tipping markets. This could help to prevent the creation of future market players with entrenched or dominant gatekeeper positions. Both initiatives will be the subject of public consultations.

Collective bargaining

On 30 June 2020, the Commission announced a new initiative aiming to assess whether there is a need to adopt measures at EU level to ensure that collective bargaining is accessible not only to employees and false self-employed, but also to the genuine self-employed who need it. The background to this is that while the Court has recognised that collective bargaining agreements between employers and employees (including so called false self-employed which are in a situation comparable to employees) intended to improve working conditions fall outside the scope of the cartel prohibition. However, genuine self-employed remain undertakings in the eyes of EU competition law and collective bargaining agreements encompassing them would likely fall under the cartel prohibition of article 101 TFEU as the law stands today.

This competition law-related initiative is only one piece of the puzzle to improve the situation of some genuine self-employed (eg, platform workers). It, therefore, complements other initiatives addressing specific employment and social aspects.

Mergers

The Commission continuously evaluates the substantive and procedural rules that make up the legal framework in force for merger control. Experience, as well as a number of public consultations carried out since the last reform of the EU Merger Regulation in 2004, show that in general the merger rules work well and no fundamental overhaul is needed. Nevertheless, to identify possible areas for improvement, the Commission launched in 2016 an evaluation exercise, including a public consultation, regarding selected procedural and jurisdictional aspects of EU merger control, such as the use of purely turnover-based thresholds and the potential for further simplification of the treatment of certain non-problematic cases. The Commission published a summary of the results of the public consultation on its website on 28 July 2017. The Commission is carrying out further research on the topics covered by the evaluation and will reflect on whether further action is required at this stage.

Antitrust and mergers - Market definition

On 3 April 2020, the European Commission formally launched an evaluation of its 1997 Market Definition Notice, which includes a public consultation on the substance of the Notice launched in late June 2020. The purpose of the evaluation is to ensure that the guidance the Commission gives on market definition is accurate and up to date and that it sets out a clear and consistent approach to market definition, in a way that is easily accessible. Since the publication of the Market Definition Notice in 1997, the Commission has gained a lot of experience that may need to be recorded and consolidated by means of an update of the review of the Notice. This experience includes, for example, taking into account of new market developments and business models. The Commission’s practice has also evolved in the application of qualitative and quantitative techniques as well as in the discovery and use of different sources of evidence.

State aid

A major overhaul of EU state aid rules, known as State Aid Modernisation, has been under way since 2012. Overall, the room for member states to give state aid in line with clear criteria and without the need for prior authorisation from the Commission has greatly expanded over recent years. The modernisation efforts have led to a more targeted approach, simplified procedures and more opportunities for public investment. The new rules are currently being implemented. In 2018, the Enabling Regulation was revised with a view to allow for a targeted review of the General Block Exemption Regulation. That review will cover three areas, namely aid for European Territorial Cooperation projects, aid for Seal of Excellence projects and national funding combined with InvestEU money. Most of the current rules were to expire at the end of 2020. To provide predictability and legal certainty, whilst preparing for a possible future update of the State aid rules, the Commission has prolonged the validity of those rules. In addition, on 7 January 2019 the Commission launched, in line with the Commission’s Better Regulation Guidelines, an evaluation of a number of these rules. The evaluation takes the form of a ‘fitness check’ with the aim of verifying whether the rules are still fit for purpose. It will involve internal analyses by the Commission and public consultations as well as, in some cases, studies prepared by external consultants or targeted consultations of specific stakeholders. The results of the exercise will be summarised in a Commission Staff Working Document to be published in 2020. On the basis of those results and, when necessary, in the light of an impact assessment, the DG Comp will then propose either to further extend or to revise the existing rules.

When did the last review of the law occur?

Antitrust

Consortia Block Exemption Regulation

The Consortia Block Exemption Regulation, Commission Regulation 906/2009 exempts from the prohibition contained in article 101(1) of the Treaty certain types of agreements between maritime shipping companies to cooperate in "consortia" (ie, in the provision of regular and scheduled international maritime shipping services). The Regulation was adopted in 2009 and prolonged in 2014 by five years and was due to expire on 25 April 2020. Following a public consultation in 2018, the Commission has prolonged the validity of the regulation until 25 April 2024.

Mergers

The main legislative texts for merger decisions are the EU Merger Regulation and the Implementing Regulation. The Merger Regulation contains the main rules for the assessment of concentrations, whereas the Implementing Regulation concerns procedural issues (such as notification, deadlines and right to be heard). The last legislative reform of the EU Merger Regulation was in 2004. However, as explained in the answer to the previous question, a number of public consultations have been carried out since then. In 2013, the Commission adopted a Simplification Package to further streamline procedures. The current evaluation of specific aspects of the Merger Regulation seeks to explore the possibility for a broader simplification exercise.

State aid

Since 2012, the Commission has modernised the rules to focus state aid control on measures that genuinely affect competition in the EU single market, while simplifying and streamlining rules and procedures. This has reduced the administrative burden and facilitated public investment by empowering member states to grant public support without prior scrutiny by the Commission. The revised General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), which was adopted in June 2014 and further expanded in 2017, gives granting authorities much wider margins to design and implement aid measures faster and with reduced administrative burden. The changes brought to the procedural regulation allow the Commission to conduct state aid sector inquiries, which was previously only possible as part of antitrust and merger control. State aid sector inquiries can be launched in situations where state aid measures may distort competition in several member states, or where existing aid measures are no longer compatible with the regulatory framework.

As part of the modernisation the Commission has also adopted revised and updated state aid guidance across a broad spectrum of policy areas (for example, the Framework on Research, Development and Innovation, the Guidelines on Regional Aid, the Guidelines on Risk Finance Aid, the Communication on aid for Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) and the Guidelines on Aid for Energy and Environmental Protection).

In 2016, the Commission adopted one of the last cornerstones of the State Aid Modernisation initiative: the notice on the Notion of State Aid. It gives guidance on which measures involve state aid in the meaning of EU rules (article 107 (1) TFEU). In 2017, the Commission reviewed the General Block Exemption Regulation to expand its scope, making it easier for member states to invest in ports and airports and to grant support in the EU’s outermost regions. In 2018, one of the last pieces of the state aid modernisation was put in place, namely the revised Best Practices Code for state aid control. The Code provides guidance to the Commission, member states, businesses and other stakeholders on the day-to-day conduct of state aid procedures and aims to improve the effectiveness, transparency and predictability of the procedures. The revised Code reflects the changed ways of working with state aid following the major modernisation since 2012.

In January 2019, the Commission launched a ‘fitness check’ to evaluate state aid rules that were adopted as part of the state aid modernisation. This evaluation will provide a basis for decisions, to be taken by the Commission in the future, about whether to further prolong or possibly update the rules. The fitness check involves internal analyses by the Commission and public consultations as well as, in some cases, studies prepared by external consultants or targeted consultations of specific stakeholders. The results of the exercise will be summarised in a Commission staff working document.

Do you have a separate economics team? If so, please give details.

The chief economist of the DG Comp has a team of 28 economists, most with PhDs in industrial organisation. The current chief economist is Pierre Régibeau, who has previously taught at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University), the Institute for Economic Analysis (Barcelona) and the University of Essex, where he currently is honorary visiting professor.

Has the authority conducted a dawn raid?

Yes, inspections are regularly conducted. The Commission has the power to enter any business premises, examine books and other records, take or obtain copies or extracts, to seal any business premises and to ask for on the spot explanations of facts or documents. The Commission also has the power to conduct searches of private premises.

Has the authority imposed penalties on officers or directors of companies for offences committed by the company? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

No.

What are the pre-merger notification thresholds, if any, for the buyer and seller involved in a merger?

The Commission has jurisdiction to review transactions that qualify as concentrations within the meaning of the EU Merger Regulation and that have an EU dimension, meaning that the merging firms reach certain turnover thresholds. There are two alternative ways to reach turnover thresholds for an EU dimension. The first way requires:

  • a combined worldwide turnover of all the merging firms over €5,000 million; and
  • an EU-wide turnover for each of at least two of the firms over €250 million.

The second way requires:

  1. a worldwide turnover of all the merging firms over €2,500 million;
  2. a combined turnover of all the merging firms over €100 million in at least three member states;
  3. a turnover of over €25 million for each of at least two of the firms in each of the three member states included under (ii); and
  4. EU-wide turnover of each of at least two firms of more than €100 million.

However, even if these turnover thresholds are met, the transaction will not be notifiable to the European Commission if each of the parties to the transaction achieves more than two-thirds of their EEA turnover within one and the same member state. The transaction will be notifiable instead to the competition authority of that country.

Mergers that do not have an EU dimension may fall instead under the remit of member states’ competition authorities. There is a referral mechanism in place that allows the member states and the Commission to transfer cases to each other, both at the request of the companies involved and of the member states. This allows companies to benefit from a one-stop-shop review and to allocate cases to the most appropriate authority.

Finally, as explained above, one of the topics that the Commission is currently evaluating is whether purely turnover-based thresholds capture all transactions that could potentially have an impact on the EU single market.

Are there any restrictions on investments that involve less than a majority stake in the business?

The acquisition of minority stakes may constitute notifiable concentrations under the EU Merger Regulation when those stakes confer control over the target to the acquiring companies. Conversely, acquisitions of non-controlling minority shareholdings (that is, transactions that do not bring about an acquisition of control) do not fall under the scope of application of the EU Merger Regulation.

The Commission published in 2014 a White Paper ‘Towards more effective merger control’, which contained a proposal to introduce a system for the review of certain categories of non-controlling minority shareholdings that may be problematic from a competition point of view. However, the results of the public consultation on the White Paper indicated concerns on the proportionality of this measure. The DG Comp, therefore, published a follow-up study in October 2016, which gathers additional information from the point of view of both competition and corporate law and practice in different jurisdictions.


EU: from the enforcer's competition economists

Address: Place Madou/Madouplein 1, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 295 00 91
Fax: +32 2 296 12 82
Web: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/index_en.html

Contacts

Pierre Regibeau
Chief Competition Economist
Tel: +32 2 299 58 37
Email: [email protected]

Svend Albaek
Deputy Chief Economist
Tel: +32 2 299 31 59
Email: [email protected]

Claes Bengtsson
Head of Unit, Economic Analysis in Merger, Antitrust and State aid cases,Coordinator, Mergers
Tel: +32 2 299 20 94
Email: [email protected]

Lluis Sauri Romero
Coordinator, State Aid
Tel: +32 2 295 90 80
Email: [email protected]

Hans Zenger
Deputy Coordinator, Mergers
Tel: +32 2 291 34 69
Email: [email protected]

Dimitrios Magos
Deputy Coordinator, State Aid
Tel: +32 2 298 80 70
Email: [email protected]

Valeria Granata
Assistant to the Chief Economist
Tel: +32 2 297 56 40
Email: [email protected]

Vasiliki Mastrantoni
Assistant to the Chief economist Team
Tel.: +32 2 295 73 14
Email: [email protected]

Economists

Luca Aguzzoni
Tel: +32 2 298 42 28
Email: [email protected]

Apostolos Baltzopoulos
Tel: +32 2 298 47 09
Email: [email protected]

Thomas Buettner
Tel.: +32 2 299 34 19
Email: [email protected]

Guillaume Débarbat
Tel: +32 2 298 14 98
Email: [email protected]

Philipp Dimakopoulos
Tel.: +32 2 295 65 30
Email: [email protected]

Liliane Giardino-Karlinger
Tel: +32 2 296 43 07
Email: [email protected]

Cyril Hariton
Tel: +32 2 295 89 22
Email: [email protected]

Zlata Jakubovic
Tel: +32 2 299 06 96
Email: [email protected]

Gabor Koltay
Tel: +32 2 298 50 16
Email: [email protected]

Rossitza Anguelova Kotzeva
Tel: +32 2 297 39 43
Email: [email protected]

David Kovo
Tel: +32 2 297 56 39
Email: [email protected]

Nicolas Listl
Tel: +32 2 295 70 29
Email: [email protected]

Szabolcs Lorincz
Tel: +32 2 299 32 07
Email: [email protected]

Helena Malikova
Tel: +32 2 298 52 98
Email: [email protected]

Hendrik Meder
Tel: +32 2 299 78 14
Email: [email protected]

Geza Sapi
Tel: +32 2 298 75 54
Email: [email protected]

Cornelius Schmidt
Tel: +32 2 298 30 36
Email: [email protected]

Fabrizio Spargoli
Tel: +32 2 295 70 39
Email: [email protected]

Moritz Suppliet
Tel: +32 2 295 00 78
Email: [email protected]

Joao Vareda
Tel.: +32 2 296 53 82
Email: [email protected]

Fabiola Zarrelli
Tel.: +32 2 295 50 54
Email: [email protected]

Questions and answers

How many economists do you employ? How many have PhDs in Industrial Organisation?

There are approximately 150 economists in DG Competition.

How are these economists distributed within the organisation? Do you have a separate economics unit, or ‘bureau’?

The chief economist at DG Competition has a team of around 30 economists, most with a PhD in industrial organisation. The other economists work as case handlers (or managers) in other directorates and units.

Do you have a chief economist?

As of 16 September 2019, our chief economist is Pierre Régibeau. He has previously taught at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Kellogg School of management (Northwestern University), the Institute for Economic Analysis (Barcelona) and the University of Essex, where he currently is honorary visiting professor.

To whom does the chief economist report?

The chief economist reports on matters of substance to the commissioner for competition and on staff matters to the director general.

Does the chief economist have the power to hire his or her own staff?

Yes, in agreement with the director general.

Are members of the separate economics unit seconded to case teams or is the unit kept separate? If so, what role does it play?

The unit of the chief economist is usually kept separate. In selected cases involving complex economic issues, a staff member may be seconded to the case teams.

To what degree is the economics unit called on to be a ‘second pair of eyes’ during cases – is it one of the agency’s ‘checks and balances’?

The chief economist advises the director general and the commissioner for competition on all major cases and policy issues. In major cases, he may also give final formal advice, which is made available to all commissioners of the European Commission. The chief economist is therefore part of the Commission’s key ‘checks and balances’.

In addition to having or not having a unit, does the agency include a specialist economist on every case team? If not, why?

For all cases requiring economic analysis (ie, the majority of important non-cartel cases) the Commission tries to include an economist in the case team; however, not all cases and policy issues require in-depth economic analysis.

How much economics work is outsourced? Of this outsourcing, what percentage is specific to particular cases, and what percentage is part of general research and development?

Most of the outsourcing is concerned with general research (ie, studies on economic issues related to competition policy). In the past, some economic work has been outsourced in selected cases, but with the current size of the chief economist team, it now happens very rarely.

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