European Commission: Hungary violates EU law in VIG-Aegon case, government receives 10 working days to respond
The Commission opened an investigation into the matter on 29 October 2021. The proposed acquisition is part of a larger transaction that was unconditionally authorized by the Commission on 12 August 2021 under the Single Merger Regulation, and aimed at VIG’s acquisition of AEGON’s Hungarian, Polish, Romanian and Turkish life and non-life, pension fund management, asset management and ancillary services businesses.
Prior to the Commission’s approval of the transaction, Hungary issued a veto on the basis of its amendments introduced in connection with the Hungarian virus pandemic on foreign direct investment screening, arguing that the acquisition would jeopardize Hungary’s legitimate interests. The main developments in the case over the last nearly a year are:
Pursuant to Article 21 of the EU Merger Regulation
the Commission has exclusive competence to investigate new mergers, which may not apply their national law to these transactions.
If they can only provide assistance if these measures are compatible with the general principles and other provisions of the new law and if the member taking the measure informs the Commission, save in a few exceptional cases. The Commission checks the measure’s compatibility and compatibility with EU law and also examines whether it has a legitimate interest.
The Commission ‘s assessment was based on the preliminary view that
There are well-founded doubts as to whether the measure is aimed at protecting Hungary’s legitimate interests under the EU Merger Regulation.
The Commission therefore considers in advance that: Hungary’s argument is unsatisfactory and that the country should have informed the Commission of the planned acquisition veto and sought the Commission’s approval before taking a decision. In its preliminary assessment, the Commission also argues that the veto is incompatible with Article 21 of the EU Merger Regulation as it infringes the freedom of establishment. The Commission invites Hungary to respond to the suggestions within 10 working days.
The Commission will evaluate Hungary’s response and will provide further assistance.
If the response does not fully address the concerns, the Commission has taken a final decision finding that Hungary has violated Article 21 of the EU Merger Regulation and may order the lifting of the veto.
– the Commission communication concludes.
Cover image source: Portfolio