Proposed merger between Dutch regulators into Authority for Consumers and Markets postponed

On 1 January 2013, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM") was expected to come into force. However, the proposed merger between the three Dutch authorities for competition, telecoms and consumers has now been postponed as a result of the Dutch Senate who raised numerous concerns on the legislative proposal which will establish the ACM ("Instellingswet ACM").

One main concern of the Dutch Senate was that the Instellingswet ACM was closely related to another legislative proposal, which streamlines the competences and procedures of the merging authorities ("Stroomlijningswet ACM"). This legislative proposal was, however, only recently sent to the Council of State, who is not expected to issue an opinion on the legislative proposal until early 2013. The Dutch Senate suggested postponing the Instellingswet ACM until the Stroomlijningswet ACM was sent to the House of Representatives of the Netherlands.

However, the Minister of Economic Affairs argued that it was not only possible but also advisable to continue dealing with the Instellingswet ACM. To this end the Minister put forward, among others, that the Stroomlijningswet ACM is not an indispensable piece of legislation for the actual merger of the regulators. According to the Minister, the Stroomlijningswet ACM streamlines competences that already exist and does not create new competences. In other words, the Minister holds the view that the ACM can play its role independently of the Stroomlijningswet ACM.

It appears that the Dutch Senate has accordingly considered the arguments of the Minister and has since decided to hold a discussion on the Instellingswet ACM on 5 February 2013.