Should merger control be repatriated to the UK?

By Stephen Hornsby

Since 2012, the government has been conducting an audit of EU powers (or ‘competences’ to use the jargon) with a view to seeking their repatriation to the UK in appropriate cases. In a recent consultation, it has got round to asking interested parties about the current division of regulatory responsibilities between Brussels and London in relation to merger control.

There are good reasons to question this division that the consultation does not mention, let alone address; indeed, there are good reasons for seeking repatriation of powers as part of the UK’s attempt to renegotiate the terms of its membership.

It will be recalled that prior to the adoption of the specific EC merger control regulation in 1990 the EU had no merger control powers save for those provided for in relation to iron and steel products. At that time, few member states had any merger control laws of their own…

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