Competition watchdog warns of casework impact in event of no-deal Brexit
The UK’s competition regulator warned it would have to take “tough decisions” on its casework in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said investigations into markets and price fixing could be impacted if it is forced to take on additional work after the UK leaves the EU.
All antitrust responsibilities, including state aid cases, currently undertaken by EU authorities will fall under the remit of the CMA once the UK leaves the bloc.
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“Taking on new and mandatory cases now will heavily constrain our ability to launch other new, but more discretionary work using our markets and enforcement powers,“ the regulator said in its annual report, released today.
The CMA, which has received £20m from the Treasury to prepare for its powers after Brexit, said adapting to the changes could mean refocus its efforts.
“What is clear is that post-[Brexit], the CMA will be a very different body from now, taking on bigger and more complex global cases whilst remaining firmly committed to protecting UK consumers in purely national and local markets,” wrote chairman Andrew Tyrie and chief executive Andrea Coscelli.
“We will need to take tough decisions on our domestic casework priorities, at pace, to be flexible to our new circumstances,” they added.
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The regulator is currently probing the proposed merger between supermarket giants Sainsbury’s and Asda, and is investigating ways to reduce the dominance of audit’s Big Four.
“If negotiations result in an implementation period or significant extension to the UK’s EU membership, we intend to give greater priority to potential market studies and investigations as we consider future work. A ‘no deal’ outcome will preclude this in the immediate term,” the CMA said.