As of 1 January 2021, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will take on responsibility for merger, cartel and competition enforcement cases that were previously reserved to the European Commission; typically, those are the larger and more complex cases. The CMA is ready for this challenge; it has committed the necessary resources to ensure that it has the people, skills and infrastructure in place to deal with these investigations and has, for merger cases, already been engaged in the ‘pre-notification’ discussions that precede a formal investigation for the past few months.
With markets becoming increasingly globalised, and the growth of digital markets, different competition authorities face many of the same challenges. Often, these issues are likely to be addressed most effectively through international cooperation. The CMA already has experience of working with authorities internationally on cases with a potential impact on UK consumers, and will continue its close engagement and cooperation with other competition and consumer agencies in the EU and globally.
Domestically, consumer protection law will remain largely unchanged; and the CMA will continue its work, and to make recommendations and give advice to government and public authorities on regulatory, policy and legislative matters to promote the benefits of competition and protect consumers.
The CMA also stands ready to take on new functions with professionalism, impartiality and analytical rigour, including the proposed Office for the Internal Market and establishing a new Digital Markets Unit in 2021/22.
The UK’s exit from the EU presents both challenges and opportunities for the CMA and for the UK’s competition and consumer protection regimes. The CMA remains committed to making the most of the upcoming opportunities to secure good outcomes for UK consumers, ensuring that its work is directly relevant to people’s everyday life, while playing a bigger role internationally to promote competition and protect consumers. We will continue to be guided by what is best for UK consumers and businesses.