ZWeR 2007, 129

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln 1611-1982 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWER 2007 AufsätzeAxel Reidlinger* / Heinrich Kühnert**

The role of NCA competence under Art. 22 ECMR

When the new Merger Regulation became applicable on 1st May 2004, one of its stated objectives was both to tackle the uncertainties and costs involved in multiple referrals and to ensure that cases would be dealt with by the most appropriate authority. To this end, Regulation 139/2004 introduced a streamlined referral package, which was intended, first, to empower parties to request referrals to and from the Commission, and secondly, to clarify the circumstances, in which the Commission and the national competition authorities could, post-notification, enforce an optimum case allocation. Recent experience shows that the Commission and the NCAs now make much greater use of the referral provisions than they did under the old Merger Regulation. However, considerable uncertainties relating to the referrals of merger cases remain. This article examines the Commission's recent practice relating to referrals from NCAs under Art. 22 ECMR, and concludes that the Commission has gone too far in refusing to take into account the competence of the referring NCA when deciding whether or not to accept the referral.1

Contents

  • I. A brief history of Art. 22 ECMR
    • 1. Legislative History
      • 1.1 The beginnings
      • 1.2 The 1998 amendment
      • 1.3 The new Merger Regulation
    • 2. Application of Art. 22 ECMR
  • II. Criteria for the appraisal of referral requests
  • III. The competence of the referring NCA – a relevant criterion?
  • IV. Scope of the Commission's duty of prima facie verification
    • 1. The CFI's judgment in Kesko v. Commission
    • 2. Application to different types of national law incompetence
  • V. Appeal to the Community courts
    • 1. Individual concern
    • 2. Direct concern
  • VI. Conclusion
*
*)
Mag., Dr. iur., Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Wien
**
**)
Dr. iur., Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Wien
1
1)
For Articles on the referral mechanism, consider e.g. Connolly/Rab/McElwee, [2007] ECLR 167; Bright/Persson, [2003] ECLR 490; Domínguez Pérez/Burnley, [2003] ECLR 364; Hirsbrunner, [1999] ECLR 372; Heidenhain, EuZW 1990, 84; Niederleithinger, WuW 1990, 721.

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