horizontal mergers, which deal with mergers of companies who compete on the same markets.
To clarify its policy with regard to remedies in merger control, the Commission launched a public consultation on the draft Revised Remedies Notice. Remedies are modifications to a merger proposed by the merging parties to eliminate potential competition concerns identified by the Commission. The Revised Remedies Notice will update and replace the current Notice.
Applying the rules
The number of merger cases notified to the Commission reached an all-time high of 402, a rise of more than 12% compared to the 356 transactions notified in 2006. In the last quarter of the year the number of notifications fell both in relation to the previous quarters and the last quarter of 2006. In total the Commission adopted 396 final Decisions in 2007, of which 368 were cleared in the first phase without conditions. Of these unconditional first-phase clearances 238 (or 65%) were adopted under the simplified procedure. A further 18 transactions were cleared in Phase I subject to conditions.
Ten Decisions were adopted after in depth Phase II investigations. Five of these were cleared without conditions, while in four cases the clearances were subject to conditions. One transaction — a horizontal merger involving a proposed takeover by Ryanair of Aer Lingus — was prohibited (see 2.7. below).
State aid control
Shaping the rules and policy
The Commission continued implementation of the State Aid Action Plan launched in 2005. The Commission adopted a new method for setting reference and discount rates14 more aligned with market principles as the specific situation of the company or project is taken into account.
The Commission launched a consultation on a draft General Block Exemption Regulation ("GBER") in the field of State aid15. This GBER will simplify and consolidate into one text five existing block exemptions for aid to SMEs, research and development aid in favour of SMEs, aid for employment, training aid and regional aid. In addition, the scope of the existing block exemptions will be extended to cover certain categories of new aid. The GBER is envisaged to be adopted by the Commission in June 2008.
On 13 June the Commission decided to extend its 2001 Cinema Communication until 31 December 2009 at the latest. The Cinema Communication contains rules on State aid to cinematographic and other audiovisual works.
In 2007, the Commission also launched the procedure for revision of the Commission Notice on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to
Not yet published in the OJ.
OJ C 210, 8.9.2007, pp. 14–40.