On 11 June 2021, Mlex reported on plans for a new post-Brexit cooperation agreement between antitrust investigators in the EU and the UK. The plan is designed to bridge the post-Brexit gap created by the UK’s departure from an arrangement that allowed competition authorities across the whole of Europe to share sensitive information and coordinate enforcement activities.
It is clear from the draft guidelines that should serve as the basis for further negotiations that the EU is aiming for an agreement that goes beyond existing bilateral agreements, such as those with Switzerland, Japan and Canada.
For example, the bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom should enable the parties to ask each other to collect information or carry out inspections on behalf of the other, as well as letting them share the confidential information collected. In addition, the intention would be for the parties to alert each other at an early stage if an investigation could damage the other party’s interests. Finally, both parties could attend confidential hearings in Brussels when a particular investigation gets to that stage.
The details of the deal are still being discussed; it is hoped that agreement can be reached by the end of the year.