Press release

New competition authority comes into existence

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK’s new unified competition body, the Competition and Markets Authority, launched today in shadow form before going live in April 2014.

""

The Competition and Markets Authority will bring together the Competition Commission (CC) with the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in order to promote competition, both within and outside the UK, for the benefit of consumers.

The CMA will not initially be taking on any casework, which will remain with the OFT and CC until April 2014, but as a shadow body it will be empowered to make the necessary preparations to allow the new authority to assume its responsibilities next year.

The launch was marked by the publication for consultation of the new authority’s proposed vision, strategy and values. The CMA’s overall ambition is to be consistently one of the leading competition and consumer agencies in the world. To achieve this it has proposed 5 goals which are to:

  • deliver effective enforcement
  • extend competition frontiers
  • refocus consumer protection
  • develop integrated performance
  • achieve professional excellence

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has also today published a Ministerial Statement of strategic priorities, to which the new competition authority must have regard.

The government strategic steer asks the CMA to:

  • identify markets where competition is not working well and tackle the constraints on competition in these cases using the competition and consumer enforcement tools that it considers most appropriate. In doing so it should take account of consumer behaviour, be willing to consider potential competition concerns in business-to-business markets, and assess whether there are specific sectors where enhanced competition could contribute to faster growth
  • enforce antitrust rules robustly and fairly where they are breached
  • play a key role in challenging government where government is creating barriers to competition
  • provide leadership and work with partner agencies to deliver positive competition outcomes

This steer is a transparent statement of the government‘s aspirations, publicly setting out the long term goals of the government in relation to competition and growth. The CMA is not bound by the steer.

Competition Minister Jo Swinson was speaking at the launch event, which was held at the CMA’s headquarters, Victoria House, along with CMA Chairman, David Currie and Chief Executive Alex Chisholm.

Jo Swinson, Competition Minister, said:

The shadow launch of the CMA is a significant step towards delivering a world-class competition regime in the UK that promotes growth and builds a stronger economy.

We are determined to ensure that the CMA has the strong powers, guidance and resources it needs to create a competition regime that is both strong and streamlined, protecting consumers and businesses alike from unfair practices from day one. That is why we have been implementing wide-reaching reforms and have published our aspirations for the CMA today.

David Currie, CMA Chairman, said:

Our ambition is to be a leading competition and consumer agency, at the forefront of delivering important results and innovation, and to achieve this on a consistent basis - over time and across the full range of our work. We want to be as good at what we do as anyone in the world, and we think this is a realistic aim given the strong legacy we are inheriting from our predecessors, the Competition Commission and Office of Fair Trading.

Alex Chisholm, the CMA’s Chief Executive, said:

This is a significant milestone in the creation of the new authority. As well as giving us the ability to carry out the necessary preparations for April 2014, it is also an opportunity to set out our proposed ambitions for the CMA. Today we outline our goals, our strategy for achieving these and how we will deploy the new agency’s full range of resources and powers for the maximum benefit. We are setting ambitious goals for what consumers and business can expect of us and what we expect of ourselves. We’d encourage all those with an interest to let us know their views.

The new authority will be the UK’s unitary body responsible for promoting competition across the economy. It will work in the interests of consumers and businesses, operating with flexibility and with a more streamlined approach to decision making. Bringing together the OFT’s competition and key consumer functions with the functions of the CC, the CMA will be a single powerful advocate of competition both in the UK and globally.

All the documents will be available on the CMA’s homepage or via its Twitter account @CMAgovuk and LinkedIn page. The CMA Board and Senior Executive Team have already been appointed and consultation has been taking place on new secondary legislation, part 1 and part 2, and draft guidance, part 1 and part 2, relating to the CMA.

Notes for editors

1.Enquiries should be directed to:

2.The CMA will be legally established on 1 October 2013 and become fully operational on 1 April 2014. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which creates the CMA received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013. The new unified Authority will bring together the CC with the competition and certain consumer functions of the OFT and will be responsible for advocating competition for the benefit of consumers. The CMA will bring about significant benefits to business and consumers, including greater coherence, flexibility, speed and transparency in the operation of the competition regime.

3.The CMA is an independent non-ministerial government department. As part of its proposals on the establishment of the CMA and broader competition reforms, the government proposed the setting of a non-binding ministerial statement of strategic priorities for the CMA, the Steer. The Steer released today is intended to provide a transparent statement of how the government sees the competition regime fitting with its broader economic priorities. government and stakeholders recognise that the independence of the CMA is vital to its success. This applies to the CMA’s setting of its priorities, the choice of tool it uses to address problems it has identified and in making final decisions on cases. The government is publishing today the response to consultation on the draft steer.

4.In preparation for the launch of the CMA in April 2014 the CMA has appointed a number of panel members. Along with the recent announcements on the appointments to the CMA Board and the Senior Executive team these appointments complete the establishment of the CMA’s corporate structure. The panel members are currently members of the CC and will serve concurrently as panel members of both the CC and the CMA until 1 April 2014 when the CC will close. As CMA panel members they will continue to serve as members of ongoing inquiries that transfer from the CC to the CMA. All the panel appointments being made to the CMA are from the group of panel members appointed to the CC in 2009 plus the Deputy Chairs who were appointed in January 2012.

5.The Competition Minister, Jo Swinson, will be giving a speech at the launch of the CMA, explaining the rationale for the creation of the CMA, wider competition reforms and the steer for the CMA. Any enquiries on the Steer should be directed to Sneha Patel on 0207 215 5984.

Published 1 October 2013