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BCLWG Issues Paper

This Issues Paper sets out what we see as key legal and policy questions within the competition sphere that HM Government will need to examine when considering its options in respect of Brexit.

October 25, 2016
BCLWG Members

The Brexit Competition Law Working Group (BCLWG) has today published an Issues Paper. You can download a copy of the document below.

We set up the BCLWG following the referendum with the aim of fostering public debate and informing government policy on implications of Brexit for competition law and policy. This Issues Paper sets out what we see as key legal and policy questions within the competition sphere that HM Government will need to examine when considering its options in respect of Brexit.

We are keen (a) to obtain feedback from stakeholders and interested persons on whether these are the right questions on which to focus at this stage and (b) to encourage submissions and views that will feed into our final report, which we plan to publish and deliver to Government early in 2017.

We intend to hold a number of roundtable discussions during November and December 2016. Details of these roundtables will be posted on this website.

Comments and submissions on the Issues Paper are requested by 30 November 2016. Details of how to contribute can be found here

  • Pro pro bono

    Have you had any comments yet?

  • Pro pro bono

    I fear that your consultation paper and the comments which have been posted are too complacent about the performance to date of EU/UK competition policy and law, and as a result you will be mistakenly negative in your assessment of the implications of Brexit.

    After all:

    1) EU/UK Competition law and specialist sectoral regulation did nothing to avert – or mitigate the adverse effects of – the 1998 financial crisis.
    2) Nor has it done anything to address inefficiencies in the labour market, including in top executive pay.
    3) Nor has it led to many obvious improvements in productivity.

    The financial crisis and the problems associated with inequalities and low productivity are all major issues which could and should have been ameliorated by a more effective competition policy.

    Moreover,

    4) The enforcement of competition law is often extremely expensive, and slow.
    5) Requiring UK courts to follow precedents set elsewhere makes it more likely that mistakes will be made.
    6) The application of Article 102 has led to large fines being levied for so-called abuses of a dominant position, yet no-one knows in advance what that is, nor what should count as an abuse.

    Another fundamental legal problem is that:

    7) EU Competition law has two objectives, whereas in other jurisdictions (as used to be the case in the UK) there is only one. The EU Single Market Imperative both complicates assessments and ultimately trumps the objective of making markets work to the benefit of consumers. This damages welfare. (Two clear examples are the roaming regulation of mobile phone calls, and the promotion of parallel trade in patented medicines.)

    It follows that the UK competition law will be able to benefit substantially from leaving the EU. We will be able to concentrate on improving consumer welfare, we will be able to be more efficient in drawing on precedents, and we will be able to consider reverting to the previous methods of controlling monopoly power. Mergers that have a major effect on the UK will be decided here. The CMA will be able to address the most important issues.
    .