In 2013, the NMa is scheduled to merge with the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority (OPTA) and the Consumer Authority (CA) to create a single "lean and mean" regulator, to be headed by the new NMa chairman Chris Fonteijn. The three authorities currently cooperate on the basis of "cooperation protocols". Lately, cooperation seems to be a hot topic with the NMa and the European Commission.
According to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, the combining of sector specific regulation, competition enforcement and consumer protection into a single regulator will result in synergies and will be cost-efficient. Increasing internationalisation and (technological) developments require intensified cooperation between the three regulatory authorities, with supervisory tasks lying on partly the same (sub)markets. The merger's estimated cost savings of approximately EUR 7 million is an added bonus, which fits well with the Dutch government's intended budget cuts. The Lower House's opposition, however, fears these cost savings are the actual reason for the intended merger and that effective enforcement may be lost in the broader organisation. A scenario which appears not unlikely, given the NMa's recent admission in the press to struggle with capacity problems.
Ever closer cooperation seems to be a hot topic lately. The NMa chose "cooperation" as a theme for its 2010 Annual Report, which states "the NMa more than ever reaped the benefits of cooperation, not just cooperation within the organization between the general competition oversight and industry-specific oversight departments, but also with other authorities and regulators, both domestic and abroad". Even recently the NMa is "reaping benefits", as the Fiscal Intelligence and Information Service provided the NMa with cartel-related information found during an investigation, which led to the NMa investigating a potential real estate trading cartel. However, the NMa finds there is still room for improvement: it has indicated to favour increased information exchange among regulators at national as well as international level by removing the statutory restrictions in the Dutch Competition Act preventing it from passing on information about activities falling under the supervision of other authorities.
The European Commission also seems to support increased cooperation among competition authorities. Apart from cooperating with the EU national competition authorities through the European Competition Network, it is looking at new ways to increase cooperation among national competition authorities in the merger control field. On 27 May 2011, a public consultation was launched on best practices for cooperation among EU national competition authorities to facilitate information-sharing for mergers which are not subject to EU merger control, but which require clearance in several Member States. Additionally, the NMa's acting chairman, Henk Don, underlined the importance of the international competition network for a fast exchange of information in the event of cross-border cartels at the ICN's Annual Conference.