On January 12, 2022, former European Central Bank official Benoît Coeuré was appointed President of the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) following his hearing by both houses of the French Parliament.[1] He was unanimously appointed by members of the Commission for Economic Affairs of the Assemblée Nationale, while the Commission for Economic Affairs of the Sénat displayed a more balanced distribution of votes (only 12 in favor out of 22 votes cast).

On January 4, 2022, the Cour de cassation confirmed the rulings of the president of the Court of Appeals validating dawn raids carried out in May 2017 by the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) in the rendering sector.[1]

On December 22, 2021, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published its annual review for 2021.[1]  As done already on the occasion of the presentation of its Annual Report 2020/2021,[2] the FCO’s President, Andreas Mundt, emphasized again that the protection of competition in the digital economy remains one of the FCO’s top priorities.  He underlined that also merger control will continue to serve as a key tool to achieve this goal.  In addition, he pointed out that the FCO would welcome powers of intervention also with regard to infringements of consumer rights.

The UK Government has stated that the review of mergers in the UK “should be as efficient as possible, focusing its attention on mergers most likely to be harmful to competition and consumers, without unduly hindering benign investment.”[1] To that end, the UK has a voluntary, non-suspensive system of merger control, intended to promote greater flexibility and proportionality than a suspensory regime.

Cleary Gottlieb partners Romano Subiotto QC and Robbert Snelders, in collaboration with our Antitrust practice, are thrilled to present

On November 18, 2021, the Commission published its communication entitled “a competition policy fit for new challenges” (the “Communication”).[1] The Communication identifies several areas where an adjusted competition policy could help overcome new challenges the European economy is facing. In particular, the Communication discusses competition policy’s role in Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in supporting the European green[2] and digital transition,[3] and in strengthening the Single market’s resilience.

October 13, 2021 marked the end of Isabelle de Silva’s five-year term as President of the FCA.

On October 11, 2021, the FCO published two new guidelines, the leniency guidelines and guidelines on the setting of antitrust fines.[1]  Both guidelines reflect revisions to the Act against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”) resulting from the 10th Amendment of the ARC earlier in 2021.[2]  While the leniency program was legally anchored only by the 10th Amendment of the ARC, the FCO’s new leniency guidelines largely correspond to the former guidelines as issued in 2000 and updated in 2006.  In contrast, the FCO’s new fining guidelines substantiate several important methodical changes introduced to the law by the 10th Amendment of the ARC and implement judicial practice which has in the past differed considerably from the FCO’s principles in some cases.