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Belgium - Federal Chamber of Representatives Approves Bill Modifying Competition Rules

  • 29/03/2024
  • News

The federal Chamber of Representatives (Chamber) approved on 28 March 2024 bill 55K3813 (the Bill) that will modify the procedures of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) and implement Regulation (EU) 2022/1925 on contestable and fair markets in the digital sector (Digital Markets Act or DMA). As discussed in the VBB Belgian Antitrust Watch of 9 February 2024, the Bill will create the position of chief planning and budget within the BCA’s board of directors and also seeks to improve the efficiency of the procedures in antitrust matters followed by the BCA. Additionally, the Bill confers powers on the BCA to support the work of the European Commission in applying the DMA.
Pursuant to the most controversial policy choice of the Bill, the powers of the BCA to review mergers between “authorised hospitals” will be severely curtailed. The BCA’s jurisdiction will be limited to transactions among parties that achieve a turnover of at least EUR 250 million individually and EUR 900 million collectively. While modifications to the competition rules rarely give rise to genuine parliamentary debate, the rule pertaining to hospital mergers (Article 57 of the Bill) formed the subject of animated discussions at committee level. In addition, in an attempt to protect its turf, the BCA asked the committee for economic affairs, consumer protection and digital agenda of the Chamber to be heard (see, VBB Belgian Antitrust Watch of 22 February 2024), but that request was unceremoniously turned down.              
The Bill will enter into force in April or May 2024, 10 days after its publication in the Belgian Official Journal. The approved text can be retrieved here.  

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