At the end of 2018, the European Parliament and Council adopted Directive (EU) 2019/1, often referred to as the “ECN+ Directive,” which, among other things, contains provisions ensuring the independence of the competition authorities of the EU Member States (national competition authorities or NCAs), which are, together with the European Commission, responsible for the enforcement of the EU antitrust rules laid down in Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. In early 2019, the European Commission visibly showed its own independence by prohibiting Siemens’ takeover of Alstom’s rail transport business, a proposed merger publicly backed by the German and French governments. This paper gives an overview of the independence guarantees in EU law and discusses more in general the notion of independence of competition authorities and its rationale.
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