On 12 July 2021, the European Commission published a Staff Working Document summarising the findings of the evaluation of the Market Definition Notice used in EU competition law. The evaluation showed that the Market Definition Notice remains highly relevant and effective in providing correct, comprehensive and clear guidance on key issues of market definition and the Commission’s approach to it.
At the same time, the evaluation also suggests that the Notice does not fully reflect developments in best practices in market definition that have taken place since 1997, including latest developments in EU case law. For example, the Commission has refined its approach to market definition in line with the theories of harm investigated, the prevailing market conditions and the sophistication of available tools.
Competition: Antitrust and merger control
Period of consultation:
From 26.06.2020 to 09.10.2020
The Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market for the purposes of Community competition law (OJ C 372, 9.12.1997, p. 5–13, “the Market Definition Notice”) was published in 1997. Market definition is used both in the Commission’s antitrust enforcement pursuant to Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in the Commission’s merger control enforcement pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004.
Market definition is a tool to identify and define the boundaries of competition between undertakings. The objective of defining the relevant product and geographic market is to identify the actual competitors that are capable of constraining the commercial decisions of the undertakings concerned, such as their pricing decisions. It is from this perspective that the market definition makes it possible, among other things, to calculate market shares that convey meaningful information for the purposes of assessing market power.
The Commission Notice on the definition of relevant markets has the purpose of providing guidance as to how the Commission applies the concept of relevant product and geographic market in competition law enforcement and therefore of increasing the transparency of the Commission’s policy and decision-making in the area of competition policy.
Purpose and process of the evaluation
The purpose of this evaluation is to gather evidence on the functioning of the Market Definition Notice in order to assess whether this Notice is still “fit-for-purpose” in light of developments since its adoption in 1997. The current Notice may not address all pertinent questions arising today when defining the relevant product and geographic market. The Commission has also gained a lot of experience in market definition since 1997, techniques have evolved and the EU courts have provided additional guidance.
In line with Better Regulation Principles, this evaluation will be based on five evaluation criteria: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and EU added value.
The evaluation includes a public consultation allowing interested stakeholders to provide feedback and contribute suggestions. The Commission will also carry out research into best practices in market definition; exchange views with national competition authorities within and outside the EU; and proactively engage with experts and representatives from stakeholder groups. A synopsis report will summarise the results of all consultation activities and will be annexed to the evaluation staff working document.
A. Reference documents
B. Further information on the evaluation
The progress of the evaluation can be followed on the website of better regulation.
The evaluation roadmap was published on 03 April 2020. The deadline for stakeholders' feedback expired on 15 May 2020.
The public consultation was launched on 26 June 2020. The deadline for stakeholders to fill in the questionnaire expired on 09 October 2020.
C. Results of the public consultation (published on 22 December 2020)
86 stakeholders have filled in the online questionnaire. Their replies are available here.
10 other stakeholders also publicly submitted their opinion to the Commission in the context of the public consultation but not through the Commission’s Better Regulation page. These submissions are available here .
Factual summary of the contributions received in the context of the open public consultation on the evaluation of the Market Definition Notice.
D. Contributions of the NCAs to the evaluation of the MDN (published on 22 December 2020)
Summary of the contributions of the National Competition Authorities to the evaluation of the Market Definition Notice.
E. Support study (June 2021)
- Workshop on Market Definition with the members of BEUC (European Consumer Organisation), 2 March 2021
- Meeting with J.-U. Franck and M. Peitz on academic paper, 21 March 2021
Commission staff working document - Evaluation of the Commission notice on the definition of relevant market for the purposes of the Community competition law of 9 December 1997.
- The summary (DE, EN, FR)
Personal data and privacy
The European Union is committed to protecting your personal data and to respecting your privacy. When carrying out public consultations we adhere to the policy on 'protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions', based on Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 on processing of personal data by the EU institutions.
Further information on the protection of your personal data.
Directorate-General for Competition – Units A.1 and A.2 – Antitrust and Mergers Case Support and Policy
Please always indicate the reference number in your correspondence: HT.5789 Review of the Market definition Notice.
Directorate-General for Competition