Competition Act 2002 (Section 27) Order 2018: Motion

The purpose of today's meeting is to consider the following motion:

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order:

Competition Act 2002 (Section 27) Order 2018,

copies of which Order were laid before Dail Éireann on 4th October 2018.

I thank the Chairman and members for inviting me to address the committee today.

I am here today to introduce the Competition Act 2002 (Section 27) Order 2018 to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation and to seek approval of the order before them. To assist the members' consideration of the order, I have prepared a briefing note which has been circulated for their information.

Section 27(1) of the Competition Act 2002 (as amended) allows the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to vary monetary thresholds at which undertakings, which are generally companies, must notify the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, CCPC, of a proposed merger or acquisition.

The factors that have been considered in reviewing the merger and acquisition thresholds include examining comparable thresholds in other relevant countries. The lower current threshold of €3 million was found to be significantly out of sync with comparable jurisdictions.

Also of note is the general increase in property prices in recent years and the effect of the Irish economic recovery on the turnover of undertakings. This has resulted in an increase in undertakings subject to the notifiable thresholds.

These matters all pointed to the requirement to revisit the appropriateness of the financial thresholds.

A public consultation was conducted by my Department in 2017. The responses to the public consultation were strongly in favour of an increase to the financial thresholds for proposed merger and acquisition notifications.

I have considered the relevant economic data regarding the current thresholds and I have accepted the outcome of the public consultation which concurs with the data. The CCPC also supports the increase to the financial thresholds for notification of potential mergers or acquisitions as set out in the order.

I signed the order on 2 October 2018 to increase the monetary thresholds which will come into effect on 1 January 2019.

The effect of the order will be that the combined turnover of undertakings involved in a proposed merger or acquisition will increase from €50 million to €60 million and the turnover of two or more undertakings involved in a proposed merger or acquisition will increase from €3 million to €10 million.

These changes should reduce the administrative and financial burden on smaller enterprises as they will no longer be required to notify the CCPC of proposed mergers or acquisitions and pay the applicable fee of €8,000 and the associated legal costs, which I understand can be of the order of €15,000 upwards.

Increasing the financial thresholds will also better align the Irish regime with international norms.

I ask that the committee approves the order before it today. I thank the Chairman and members.

I thank the Minister. Do members wish to address questions to the Minister on this order?

The order seems very sensible.

It seems very straightforward. Does the Minister wish to add anything further?

I commend the Minister on taking action. As Deputy Kelleher has already pointed out, anything that reduces costs to small businesses and business generally, as this does, is to be welcomed.

Absolutely. This completes the committee's consideration of the Competition Act 2002 (Section 27) Order 2018. The Clerk to the Committee will convey the following message to the Clerk of the Dáil and the Clerk of the Seanad.

I thank the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Heather Humphreys, and her officials for attending today's meeting of the joint committee.