12222 Beyond the Phish
At 4, the CMA is clearly no longer a newborn baby. Indeed, no longer a toddler — but, rather, making great strides, I think most people would say. We have, as you know, one statutory duty - to promote competition for the benefit of consumers — and we have regard to this in all that we do. We comfortably achieved that in our first 3 years, and we expect to have done so again in our fourth year. If anything, the figures understate what we are achieving, because they count only the direct benefit of our work in a particular case, rather than the much wider deterrent effect.
Not to mention the even wider deterrent effect of signalling to all businesses that it is risky and costly to engage in price-fixing and other anti-competitive agreements and practices — and that the CMA is earnest in seeking to put a stop to such practices, all for the benefit of consumers. In the area of competition law enforcement, we have upped our game. In the 5 years April to March , we or our predecessor the Office of Fair Trading opened an average of 6.
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More recently, that level of activity has materially increased. In April to March , we opened 8; in April to March we opened 10; and in April to March , we have opened another Yet there are no grounds for complacency. As a competition authority we face formidable challenges:. They are real challenges for competition law and policy in the UK, and across Europe — and they present practical problems which will need to be addressed as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the EU. It is perhaps inevitable that the competition law community should focus on the negative in all this.
The practice of competition law in the UK has, historically, been intimately bound up with our membership of the EU:. Disengaging competition law and policy from EU membership is, for many people, conceptually hard to take. But I want to suggest to you that, notwithstanding the many potential problems, there are also significant opportunities. In short, jurisdiction over many cases affecting UK markets, previously exercised exclusively by supranational institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg, will now be acquired by British authorities and courts.
We have discussed some of the potential difficulties, but of course there are also opportunities here, for the CMA and for the UK regime. Is it beyond us? Will it be easy?
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Are there serious difficulties in getting there? Yes, but the purpose of identifying them and tackling them is to be in a position where we can make the most of the opportunities — to the overall benefit of UK consumers, UK businesses and, ultimately, the UK economy. Asking the questions, and working on the solutions. It is true that we can expect a significant increase in our case load —taking on the mergers, cartels, anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominance that were previously reserved to the European Commission, which are typically the bigger cases, as well as control of state aid, which will be a new activity for us - and naturally we need more staff for that.
That in turn requires funding. This is of course a significant sum, but it was costed carefully and will be prudently and appropriately spent. With that money we need to recruit. These matters are subject to negotiation between the UK and the EU. We have had to be prepared for all contingencies:. Yes, we are planning to recruit substantial numbers. The quality of the work is unmatched. You are at the centre of all the important competition cases in the UK.
Pre-Brexit, that excluded the bigger cases that were under European Commission jurisdiction. Now, it will mean all the important cases. It is work that has a real and direct impact on the well-being of millions of ordinary people. They are also having to think of the wider commercial, economic and policy context in which their work is being done. But of course there are practical challenges for business and their advisers too. We do not yet know the shape of any transitional arrangements, but when they come we will all need to familiarise ourselves with them, to know which jurisdiction to contact and submit notifications to.
More than that, we all need to be prepared well in advance of the date when jurisdiction transfers.
1. What Brexit means for the CMA
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Rather, we want to take advantage of this opportunity to review the U. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing today. And, I want to thank Senators Graham and Hatch for their continuing efforts in the area of international tax reform.