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Competition Law: Are you ready for Brexit?
1 October 2020

Transition period

  • The European Commission will be able to continue to investigate potential infringements of the competition rules and to assess mergers and acquisitions where they have started work on the cases concerned before or during the transition period. 
  • The EU will be obliged to provide the UK with a list of all on-going matters, within three months of the expiration of the transition period.
  • As concerns state aid, the Commission will be entitled up until four years after the transition period to initiate new procedures concerning aid which has been granted before the end of the transition period.

Future EU/UK relationship with an agreement

  • The Political Declaration states that a level playing field for open and fair competition should be safeguarded. Provisions to ensure this should cover state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change and relevant tax matters and should build on the level playing field arrangements provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement and be commensurate with the overall economic relationship.
  • The legal changes proposed in draft UK legislation do not depend on the (eventual) agreement that will be concluded between the EU and the UK.

Future EU/UK relationship without an agreement

  • As of the withdrawal date, the UK will qualify as a third country when it comes to the application of EU competition rules.
  • The Commission will continue to exercise its jurisdiction with regard to agreements or conduct affecting the internal market. The UK may, under the terms of its national competition rules, have concurrent jurisdiction with regard to such practices,.
  • In case of no deal, the CMA and courts will be required until the Exit Day to avoid any inconsistencies between their rulings and EU law or the rulings of the European Court of Justice. The current European Block Exemption Regulations (e.g. with regard to vertical agreements and technology transfers) will be incorporated into UK law.
  • After Exit Day the UK plans to transpose the existing EU regulations on state aid into national legislation and regulations but the UK legislator may amend such legislation in the future. The CMA will monitor compliance with the state aid rules. 
  • Concentrations requiring EU notification may also require UK notification, unless official approval has been obtained before 31 January 2020.

Please also see the articles on the impact of Brexit in other practice areas. For a more detailed analysis of the impact of Brexit on your business, please do not hesitate to contact any of our experts.