The Dutch Competition Authority (NMa) has changed its procedure for examining merger cases following the October 2007 revision of the Dutch Competition Act. The procedure applies only to those merger cases where the NMa assesses whether effective competition is impeded, particularly where a dominant position is created or strengthened.

The February 2007 ruling of the Council of State declared the Dutch Public Access to Government Information Act (“WOB”) applies to the NMa’s enforcement activities in the context of the Dutch Competition Act. The procedure provides guidance on how the NMa deals with WOB-requests in merger cases.

All informal opinions in merger cases will be published. The revised procedure also reflects the amendments made in September 2008 to the decision to issue short-form decisions in merger cases. This means that the NMa can finalise more merger cases in which it issues a short-form decision (i.e. without publishing the reasons in detail), where the market shares of the undertakings that intend to merge are not the sole criterion.

Finally, the procedure deals with media mergers under the Interim Act on Media Mergers (“TWM”), which came into effect in June 2007. In addition to assessing whether such a merger requires a licence, the NMa will also decide in the notification phase whether the media merger is permitted by the TWM. The NMa will ask the Dutch Media Authority for advice before giving its decision.

Source: NMa, Press and news releases, 01-21-2008 at