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European Commission clears merger of T-Mobile and Tele 2

The EC has given its unconditional approval to T-Mobile Netherland’s takeover of Tele 2.

Background: The EC was notified of the merger in May 2018, and opened an investigation in June. The Commission was concerned about possible coordinated behaviour of the operators, rising prices, and reduced options for the MVNOs in the country.

What’s new? The investigation is now over, and the EC found no reason to be concerned about “prices or quality of mobile services for Dutch consumers”; prices in the Dutch mobile market are among the lowest in the EU. The EC is also convinced MVNOs would not suffer from the merger.

Why is it important? After a long streak of mergers which were either denied or approved with remedies, this is the first time in years that the Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager says yes without raising objections of any sort. This could signal a new direction in the EC’s competition policy in telecoms. However, it is too early to say: not only do we need to see how the EC deals with the next cases; we should also see what the next Commission will look like, after the European elections of May 2019.