In September 2013, Belgium’s new Competition Act came into force. It involves a number of significant institutional and procedural changes, intended to improve the effectiveness of national competition law enforcement in Belgium. Key changes include:
- The amalgamation of the existing Competition Council and Directorate General for Competition into a new single competition authority, to be known as the Belgian Competition Authority (Autoritié belge de concurrence / Mededingingsautoriteit). This is similar to the development in the United Kingdom, where the existing Competition Commission and Office of Fair Trading are to be amalgamated into a new single authority, the Competition and Markets Authority;
- There is to be a settlement procedure for investigations under the prohibition on anti-competitive agreements;
- The new authority will have the power to impose fines on individuals, as well as on companies, for cartel infringements;
- There will be new strict timetables for investigations under the prohibitions on anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance; and
- In merger control, there will also be a stricter timetable, with the simplified procedure shortened from 20 to 15 working days.