On March 9, 2017, the German Federal Parliament passed the ninth amendment to the Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC) (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen). The amendment is expected to come into force in Q2/2017 and will substantially change German competition law.
The reform is driven in part by formal requirements to implement EU legislation into national German law and to eliminate some inconsistencies between EU and German law in the area of cartel enforcement. But it also aims to adjust the domestic competition law framework to some of the challenges that come with big data, two-sided markets, and with the digital economy more generally.
After almost two years of intense discussions in the antitrust community, the new German competition law generally comes with few surprises; but, it still contains a number of paradigm shifts that will have material practical implications, going forward.
For companies and investors doing business in Germany, the new law brings a number of practical changes including new merger control thresholds, enhanced FCO tool box for assessing market power, implementation of the cartel damages directive (2014/104/EU), changes to liability and succession, i.e., closing the “sausage gap”, extending options for information exchange among regulatory authorities, and facilitating cooperations in certain industry sectors.
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