More than one and half year after the amendments to China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (the “AML”) came into effect, the State Council of China approved on December 29, 2023 and published on January 26, 2024 revisions[1] to China’s merger control notification thresholds (the “State Council Order”).[2]

On December 21, 2023, the Grand Chamber of the CJEU delivered a judgment on the interplay between public procurement rules and competition law.[1]  The judgment replies to questions raised on a preliminary reference by the Portuguese Supreme Administrative Court on the interpretation of Article 57(4) of the Public Procurement Directive (“PPD”),[2] which states that tendering authorities may exclude from participation in a procurement procedure any economic operator involved in anticompetitive behaviour.  The judgment provides the following clarifications:

On November 8, 2023, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) held the G7 Joint Competition Enforcers and Policy Makers Summit (the “Summit”) in Tokyo.  The focus of the Summit was for the G7 competition authorities and policymakers (the “Authorities”) to discuss effective approaches to enforcing and promoting competition in digital markets.  At the Summit, the Authorities adopted the “Digital Competition Communiqué[1] (the “Communiqué”) and updated the “Compendium of approaches to improving competition in digital markets”[2] (the “Compendium”). 

The new draft guidelines depart from decades of practice by introducing novel presumptions that could make it harder for mergers to obtain regulatory clearance from the agencies.

On July 19, 2023, the FTC and DOJ published draft merger guidelines.[1]  Historically, the purpose of these guidelines has been to provide the public, including companies whose transactions are potentially subject to agency review, with information about how the agencies analyze mergers to identify potential competitive harm.  The guidelines have no force of law and are not binding on the courts, though courts have relied on them as persuasive authority to varying degrees.  Past iterations of the guidelines have therefore provided a neutral explanation of the agencies’ approach, including descriptions of the economic tools that they and the courts can use to assess a merger’s likely competitive effects.

On July 5, 2023, the German Parliament (Bundestag) passed the Competition Enforcement Act, amending the German Act Against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”) for the 11th time (“11th Amendment”).  This comes only two and a half years after the last significant amendment in 2021, which granted the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) unprecedented investigative powers.[1]  The 11th Amendment once again equips the FCO with additional enforcement powers.

On 11 July 2023, the UK Government published its second Annual Report on the National Security and Investment Act 2021 (the “Act”).

The Annual Report begins with an introduction by Oliver Dowden MP, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the formal decision-maker under the Act in his role as the Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office.  This introduction seeks to reassure investors that the Act is a “light-touch, proportionate regime that offers companies and investors the certainty they need to do business, while crucially protecting the UK’s national security in an increasingly volatile world.”

On July 4, 2023, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in Meta Platforms Inc. v. Bundeskartellamt,[1] following a request for a preliminary ruling from the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (“Düsseldorf Court”) on the validity of the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) 2019 decision finding that Meta Platforms (“Meta”)[2] abused its dominant position by collecting and processing data without users giving their consent freely.[3]  The Court of Justice confirmed that competition authorities can find breach of data protection rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) where that finding is necessary to establish the existence of an abuse of dominance under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”).  The Court of Justice however emphasized that competition authorities are required to consult and cooperate with national supervisory authorities in charge of GDPR enforcement (“GDPR authorities”).

The CMA has published its Annual Report on the UK’s concurrency arrangements, which came into effect in their current form in 2014.  Eight sectoral regulators have competition law powers in the UK, in addition to the CMA as the primary competition authority.[1] 

On May 26, 2023, the first reading of the Government’s amendment to the draft of the Competition Enforcement Act dated April 5, 2023 (“Government Draft 11th Amendment”) was held in Parliament.  The Competition Enforcement Act will amend the German Act Against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”) for the 11th time.[1]  The Government has proposed further changes to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action’s draft published in September 2022 (“Draft 11th Amendment”).[2]  This blog post outlines the changes proposed by the government to the Draft 11th Amendment, following on from an earlier blog post on the Draft 11th Amendment (available here).