Position Paper on National and European Champions in Merger Control

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In February 2019 the European Commission blocked the planned acquisition of Alstom by Siemens as the merger would have harmed competition. Soon afterwards, the economy ministers of Germany and France published a manifesto for a European industrial policy. They are calling for EU merger control to be relaxed, by allowing the approval of potentially anti-competitive mergers in individual cases to enable the creation of so called European champions. The idea is that this would help maintain European competitiveness in the face of competition from China and other nations. Numerous academics, competition experts and company associations were critical of this call to relax EU merger control since it would lead to an overall negative impact for the European economy and consumers. The BWB took this opportunity to examine the impact on the economy of Europe and individual member states if EU merger control were to be relaxed and politicized.