The European Antitrust Review 2015

Merger Control

EU Merger Control in 2013/2014: Tough but Fair? With the current European Commission’s (the Commission) term drawing to a close, a review of merger control enforcement activity in the last year of the mandate reveals a number of interesting trends.1 Over the past year, we have seen a hardening of the Commission’s attitude towards procedural infringements as it opened proceedings in two cases relating to the alleged provision of misleading information2 and breach of the standstill obligation.3 The Commission has also shown that, while it will try to find solutions in negotiating with merging parties, the remedies demanded can be complex, extensive and wide-ranging (eg, Syniverse/Mach)4 and it will not hesitate to prohibit mergers where it considers that remedies proposed by the merging parties fall short (Ryanair/Aer Lingus,5 UPS/TNT6). The Commission is also keener than ever to preserve its exclusive jurisdiction and has refused a number of referral requests by national authorities even in markets that are clearly confined to one national territory (Telefonica/E-Plus, Liberty Global/Ziggo).7 Another development that has attracted much debate has been the clearance of two Phase II cases on the basis of the infrequently used failing-firm defence (Aegean/Olympic II, Nynas/Shell/Harburg).8

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