Discussion paper

DP14548 25 Years of European Merger Control

We study the evolution of EC merger decisions over the first 25 years of common European merger
policy. Using a novel dataset at the level of the relevant antitrust markets and containing all merger cases
scrutinized by the Commission over the 1990-2014 period, we evaluate how consistently arguments related to
structural market parameters – dominance, concentration, barriers to entry, and foreclosure – were applied
over time and across different dimensions such as the geographic market definition and the complexity of
the merger. Simple, linear probability models as usually applied in the literature overestimate on average
the effects of the structural indicators. Using non-parametric machine learning techniques, we find that
dominance is positively correlated with competitive concerns, especially in concentrated markets and in
complex mergers. Yet, its importance has decreased over time and significantly following the 2004 merger
policy reform. The Commission’s competitive concerns are also correlated with concentration and the more
so, the higher the entry barriers and the risks of foreclosure. These patterns are not changing over time.
The role of the structural indicators in explaining competitive concerns does not change depending on the
geographic market definition.


Duso, T, P Affeldt and F Szücs (eds) (2020), “DP14548 25 Years of European Merger Control”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 14548. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14548