Plans for stronger competition regime announced

Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 13:34
Written by Scott Buckler

Major steps towards creating the UK's new strengthened and streamlined competition regime have been announced by the Business Secretary Vince Cable

New measures include the appointment of a high calibre team of Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Board and a consultation on the CMA strategic priorities.

The new authority will be the UK's single leading body responsible for promoting competition for the benefit of consumers across the economy. It will provide essential services to business and consumers, operating with flexibility and with a more streamlined approach to decision making. Bringing together the Competition Commission (CC) and key consumer functions from the Office of Fair Trading, the CMA will be a powerful advocate of competition both in the UK and globally.

In advance of the launch of the CMA in shadow form this October the government is publishing:

  • a consultation on the draft steer for the CMA which outlines the long-term goals of the government in relation to competition and growth
  • the identity of the high calibre team of Non-Executive Directors who are being appointed to the CMA Board
  • BIS's consultation on government proposals for the initial CMA powers and strategic priorities setting out how it will carry out its functions to deliver a more robust competition regime

The details released follow the Chancellor's announcement in the Spending Review last month that the budget of the new Competition and Markets Authority will be increased by £16 million in 2015 to 2016.

There will also be a parallel consultation by the CMA Transition Team on the first set of draft guidance on how the new organisation will operate. This will cover the CMA's approach to reviewing mergers, including its extended power to impose interim measures, to analysing markets, to imposing financial penalties where firms fail to comply with investigatory requirements, to recovering its costs in telecoms appeals, and transparency in the ways it does its work.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

An effective competition regime is essential for a strong economy and to protect consumers. The UK regime is already world-class, and is underpinned by robust enforcement of the law but there is still scope for improvement.

The appointment of a high-calibre Board for the CMA with knowledge of competition law, business and economic expertise, and a wealth of international experience as well as £16 million in extra funding, is a significant milestone.

Lord Currie, Chair Designate of the CMA, said:

Today's announcement is a huge step towards creating the Competition and Markets Authority. The team of Non-Executive Directors who are being appointed to the Board bring with them experience and expertise that will be invaluable as we create a new reformed, streamlined regime. I very much look forward to working with them in setting up this world-class competition authority.

Alex Chisholm, Chief Executive Designate of the CMA, said:

The consultation announced today on the first set of draft guidance documents is a landmark in our journey towards the CMA. Guided by expert advice from the Office of Fair Trading and Competition Commission, together with BIS and concurrent regulators, these documents set out how David Currie and I intend the CMA to carry out its work.

The Non-Executive Directors being appointed to the soon to be created Competition and Markets Authority include Annetje Ottow, William (Bill) Kovacic, Philip Lowe, Carolyn Fairbairn and Alan Giles, and the two Panel member NEDs are Roger Witcomb and Jill May. Roger Witcomb has also been appointed as Chairman of the CMA Panel.

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