A document entitled “A French-German manifesto for a European industrial policy fit for the 21st century” was launched in Berlin on 19 February 2019 by the Ministers of the Economy of both France and Germany which includes their proposals for reforms of EU competition law.
The document has not, as yet, been officially communicated to me, or to my officials by our French or German counterparts, nor have I nor my officials been approached formally or informally on the matter.
As EU competition law falls within the exclusive competence of the EU Commission under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, it would be premature to comment on the proposals prior to any formal discussion on the issue by the EU Commission and EU Member States. It is understood that the document may be formally raised by the French and German Governments at the next scheduled European Council on 21 March 2019.
EU Competition law is working well. A ten-year review of the operation of the European Competition Network has resulted in the recently published Directive 2019/1, known as the ECN+ Directive. It will bolster the powers of national competition authorities and ensure a more uniform application of EU Competition law throughout the European Union. The Directive will be transposed into law in early 2021 and will result in significant additional powers for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and ComReg as the national competition authorities in Ireland.
It is, or course always useful to evaluate the operation of competition policy, not just in an European Union capacity but its implications for businesses competing at a global level. I am sure that the proposals contained in the French/German manifesto will form part of this ongoing discourse.