We kicked-off the year with a Competition & Trade Task Force briefing with Kris Dekeyser, Director “Policy and Strategy” at DG Competition at the European Commission, to give an update on merger policy.
There was a great turnout at this event as our members were eager to hear about the latest developments on merger policy as well as the recent enforcement trends. The presentation and discussion were comprehensive and detailed, encompassing many aspects, such as: an overview of the recent enforcement trends, recent vertical and conglomerate mergers, an overview of the remedies in 2018, the way data-related issues can be relevant in merger controls, an overview of the recent judgment on merger cases, and what the future holds for merger enforcement.
The number of notifications has been increasing over the last years, with 2018 witnessing the highest number of notifications ever. While those were concentrated in some sectors at first (e.g. pharma), they then expanded to other sectors and will continue to increase for the coming years. In terms of enforcement trends, the focus from 2015 to 2018 was mainly on likely increases in prices due to horizontal non-coordinated effects, but also on innovation and coordinated effects.
Cases such as the Liberty Global/Ziggo, Microsoft/LinkedIn and ArcelorMittal were discussed thoroughly during the briefing. The Commission, when dealing with those cases, has been very consistent over time and has shown a clear preference for structural remedies, such as divestitures.
Finally, the future of merger enforcement was discussed during the briefing. Whilst there are calls for more merger enforcement, for instance to deal with growing killer acquisitions, there are also parallel calls for less merger enforcement, in order to encourage investments for instance, or because there is a need for European Champions, to fend off Chinese competition for instance and protect the European market.
Director "Policy and Strategy", DG COMP | European Commission
Kris is Director of the Policy and Strategy Directorate at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition. Before taking up his present position, Kris filled numerous management positions across DG Competition – he was in charge of antitrust and merger policy and case support; took up the duties of the European Commission's Cartel Settlement Officer at DG Competition's Cartels Directorate; and he was also Head of the Unit in charge of the European Competition Network and the Private Enforcement initiative.
Kris graduated in both law and political sciences and he is a guest Professor at the Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel. He is the author of a variety of publications in English and French in the field of competition law. He also regularly delivers lectures at seminars and conferences around the world on both general and specialised areas of Competition law, variously organised by Universities, Bar Associations, business forums, government organisations, competition enforcement agencies, etc.
This event is exclusively open for members.