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Parliamentary questions
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28 February 2019
Answer given by Ms Vestager on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-005940/2018

The criteria under which the Commission assesses a referral request from a Member State are laid down in Article 9 of the EU Merger Regulation(1). The Commission assesses in particular whether a concentration threatens to affect significantly competition in a distinct market within the relevant Member State and whether such a market constitutes a substantial part of the internal market.

Even if these criteria are fulfilled, the Commission still retains a margin of discretion. Under the Commission Notice on case referral in respect of concentrations(2), the Commission considers the appropriateness of an authority to handle the concentration, the benefits inherent in a one-stop-shop system across the EU and the importance of legal certainty.

As the Commission opened a Phase II investigation in this case on 11 December 2018, there is no need for the Commission to take a formal decision on the referral request unless the German Federal Republic were to reiterate the request within the legal deadline of 65 working days from notification of the concentration.

In previous telecommunications cases, the Commission found that for reasons linked to the creation of a single telecommunications market, a merger review by the Commission was preferable(3). Up-to-date information on the case that the Honourable Member mentions in the question can be found on the Commission’s website(4).

(1)Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings.
(2)OJ C 56, 5 March 2005, p.2.
(3)E.g. Commission decision of 3 August 2016 in case M.7978 — Vodafone/Liberty Global/Dutch JV.

Last updated: 5 March 2019Legal notice