Review and learn from past merger decisions, EU Commission's chief economist urges

3 October 2018 11:38am

1 October 2018. By Victoria Ibitoye.

The European Commission should conduct more retrospective studies to determine whether it made the right decision on merger cases, its chief competition economist has said.

Tommaso Valletti said the regulator should approach its merger decisions in a similar way to its policing of company subsidies, where it revisits key decisions to examine their full impact with the benefit of hindsight.

“On the enforcement side, the only way to go forward is to do more and more ex-post studies,” he said at a conference in Berlin* today.

“Of course it’s not easy to understand all the information that is available at the time,” he added. “We should do ex-post studies and see if they are indeed right or not. We should do them systematically.”

Valletti added that this could include asking firms to collect data, which the commission would monitor and approve.

He acknowledged that the measure might be hard for agencies which are short of resources, but said the adoption of a similar approach in state aid demonstrates such a measure is possible.

“In state aid we do all of that. So we could do that in mergers too.”

When assessing state aid, the commission looks at the relevant market to see if its assumptions and conclusions have stood the test of time.

Valletti said the review of merger decisions could do that too, while also assessing the impact of remedies to determine whether they had the desired effect.

* “E.CA Competition Law and Economics Expert Forum,” Berlin, Oct. 1, 2018

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