June / July 1999

Belgium: Reform of competition law leaves questions unanswered

01 June 1999

In principle, the reform, which will enter into force in late October 1999, is welcome. However, it is unlikely that it will enable the authorities to dedicate more time to restrictive practices as the new single concentration threshold may well result in more concentrations being notified (although unofficial sources indicate that the new turnover threshold may be shortly increased). Also, the usefulness to the regulatory bodies, markets and practitioners of some of the reforms is questionable. For example, the time period within which the Council is to take stage two decisions is far from clear and this may lead to serious confusion. Moreover, it is uncertain at the time of writing whether a simplified merger notification form is to be introduced for a concentration where market shares do not exceed 25 per cent. If it is not, this is likely to give rise to an unnecessary administrative burden on undertakings. Finally, the advent of a governmental review will introduce an unwelcome political dimension to merger control.