Policy brief

Innovation in EU merger control: walking the talk

European Union policymakers have in principle put innovation at the heart of competitiveness, in particular in the Europe 2020 strategy. But in merg

Publishing date
29 February 2012

European Union policymakers have in principle put innovation at the heart of competitiveness, in particular in the Europe 2020 strategy. But in merger control, assessments of the innovation effects of mergers are inadequate, even though mergers and acquisitions can have a significant impact on the development of the structure of an industry, and on its capability to innovate.

EU merger control rules include scope for assessing the innovation effects of mergers, but in practice, the European Commission's directorate-general for competition (DG COMP) is not ‘walking the talk’. Innovation effects are only assessed when claimed by parties to a merger, and this happens rarely. Where innovation effects have been claimed, they have not been decisive in any case, meaning DG COMP has not considered them important enough to influence its decision.

A framework should be put in place that makes the reporting of efficiency-related information by the merging parties mandatory, so that innovation effects can be properly assessed for all mergers. In addition, models can be used to make an assessment of the longer-term innovation effects of a merger, and to help inform decision-making.

The author acknowledges the excellent research assistance of Joan de Solà-Morales and Hendrik Meder, and would like to thank Lars-Hendrik Röller for discussing and commenting on earlier versions of the paper.

About the authors

  • Reinhilde Veugelers

    Prof Dr. Reinhilde Veugelers is a full professor at KULeuven (BE) at the Department of Management, Strategy and Innovation.  She is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel since 2009.  She is also a CEPR Research Fellow, a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and of the Academia Europeana. From 2004-2008, she was on academic leave, as advisor at the European Commission (BEPA Bureau of European Policy Analysis).  She served on the ERC Scientific Council from 2012-2018 and on the RISE Expert Group advising the commissioner for Research.  She is a member of VARIO, the expert group advising the Flemish minister for Innovation.    She is currently a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors of the journal Science and a co-PI on the Science of Science Funding Initiative at NBER.

    With her research concentrated in the fields of industrial organisation, international economics and strategy, innovation and science, she has authored numerous well cited publications in leading international journals.  Specific recent topics include novelty in technology development,  international technology transfers through MNEs, global innovation value chains, young innovative companies, innovation for climate change,  industry science links and their impact on firm’s innovative productivity, evaluation of research & innovation policy,  explaining scientific productivity,  researchers’ international mobility,  novel scientific research.

    Websites:
    https://feb.kuleuven.be/reinhilde.veugelers
    https://bruegel.org/author/reinhilde-veugelers/

Related content

Working paper

Raising EU productivity through innovation

A better overview of which firms are most likely to adopt digital technologies and to innovate, and to turn these investments into productivity growth

Reinhilde Veugelers and Frederic Warzynski