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Policy Formulation, Implementation and Feedback in EU Merger Control

By Eric J. Shea and Raj S. Chari


This paper analyses the formulation of the EU Merger Control Regulation (MCR) and its implementation via the 1992 Nestlé/Perrier merger. It offers two arguments. First, these phases of policy development occurred in ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ policy communities found at the supranational level of governance. The first community consists of larger Commission and business interests that formulated the MCR and the second of specific actors within the ‘macro’ community - the Merger Task Force and the firms – that implemented the rules. Secondly, the development of these communities can be explained by private interest theory. The conclusions highlight two main lessons for students of comparative European politics. First, the concept of ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ communities existing at both the formulation and implementation phases of policy offers a framework for comparativists to better analyse which types of actors will interact during different stages of the policy-making process. It is argued that while the (larger) ‘macro’ community helps define the nature of the regulations, a related, but not necessarily equally composed, ‘micro’ community eventually implements the rules, potentially changing the nature of the policy itself via a ‘feedback’ mechanism. Secondly, this study suggests that comparativists must pay more attention to the private interests of policy-makers and how these are intertwined with their ‘private fears.’ Such interests and fears guide policy-makers while simultaneously constrain them from acting alone.

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