Market Test; European Commission; International law; Stop-the-clock; document production; Data Gathering; Data Analysis; Merger; Europe


Ever since the early days of European merger control, the European Commission (“Commission”) has relied heavily on information provided by the notifying parties and by relevant third parties in carrying out its review of concentrations. More recently, the Commission has added economic analyses and market surveys, as well as the review of internal documents, as major elements. Over time, it is fair to say that the depth and breadth of the information gathering and analysis has grown significantly, making European merger review a resource-intensive and sometimes very drawn-out exercise. With that in mind, and after criticism from stakeholders, the Commission has in recent months sought to streamline and simplify the process. In December 2013, it adopted a package of measures to that effect (“Merger Simplification Package”), and has proposed some further measures in its White Paper “Towards more effective EU merger control,” published in July 2014. This paper provides a high-level view of the way in which the Commission carries out a merger investigation nowadays. In particular, we focus on four areas that are key to understanding the current anatomy of the fact-finding investigation. We also discuss the process through which, in certain cases, the Commission grants access to file through a “data room” procedure.

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