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Italian Annual Competition Act extends national competition authority powers

The Italian annual competition Act (“Annual Competition Act”), which entered into force on 31 December 2023, has introduced new provisions relating to the powers and proceedings of the Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”). 

The new rules relate to two areas of the ICA’s powers in particular: (i) the procedural deadlines applicable to merger control in Italy; and (ii) the designation of the ICA as the authority responsible for the enforcement of the Digital Markets Act (“DMA”) in Italy.

New time-limit for merger control

Article 17 of the Annual Competition Act extended from 45 to 90 days the deadline for the communication by the ICA of its conclusions on investigations into concentrations. 

In particular, the amendment modifies Article 16, paragraph 8, of the Italian Competition Law which had provided that the ICA, within the peremptory term of 45 days from the start of the investigation, had to notify the companies concerned and the Minister for Enterprise and Made in Italy, of its conclusions on the merits of the notified concentration.

Article 17 of the Annual Competition Act, which extended the term to 90 days, was as a result of a proposal from the ICA itself, with the purpose of aligning the Italian legislation with the equivalent European legislation (i.e., Regulation 139/2004/EU, the “EU Merger Regulation”). 

In particular, the ICA had noted that the previous deadline of 45 days for communicating the results of the investigation made particularly difficult, if not substantially impossible, the recourse to market investigations aimed at acquiring useful elements to define the relevant markets and to assess the effects of the concentration. Therefore, there was a need to extend the deadline in order to enable the ICA to carry out an extensive market assessment.

ICA designated as DMA competent authority in Italy

Article 18 of the Annual Competition Act is aimed at attributing to the ICA all the functions referred to in the DMA.

The regulatory intervention in question was necessary considering that, in the absence of an explicit conferral by Italian domestic law, the ICA would have been deprived of the powers necessary to perform the tasks provided for in the DMA.

In fact, although the European Commission is the competent institution responsible for ensuring that companies comply with the DMA, the application of this new EU set of rules is part of a context of close cooperation between the European Commission and the national competition authorities. In such a context, the competition authorities of the EU Member States are called upon to play an essential role in the effective implementation of the DMA itself.

The ICA will therefore represent the contact point for the European Commission and the network of national competition authorities for all the fulfilments provided for by the DMA (particularly, for all forms of coordination and cooperation referred to therein).

Pursuant to Article 18 of the Annual Competition Law, the ICA has also been explicitly enabled to carry out investigations in Italy with a view to a possible finding of DMA violations by the European Commission.

If you need more information or further guidance in this area, please contact Federico Marini BalestraLucia Antonazzi and Chiara Horgan.



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