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Home > Economics FAQs Blogs > Is the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) government-run, given that it is described as an independent non-ministerial department?

Is the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) government-run, given that it is described as an independent non-ministerial department?

Relevant Topics

This question pertains to topics in Microeconomics, such as Competition Law, Market Regulation

Definitions:

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA): The CMA is a non-ministerial government department in the United Kingdom, responsible for strengthening business competition and preventing and reducing anti-competitive activities.

Detailed Explanation:

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is indeed a part of the UK government. It is described as a 'non-ministerial department', which means it operates independently of any specific government ministry, even though it is accountable to Parliament. This independence is crucial for the CMA to impartially carry out its work, which involves ensuring competition is fair for businesses in the UK and taking action to prevent or eliminate monopolies and anti-competitive practices.
Non-ministerial departments are headed by senior civil servants rather than ministers, which allows them to carry out their duties without political influence. However, they are ultimately accountable to Parliament, and their budgets are allocated by the government, which implies a certain level of governmental oversight and control.

Recent: 

Energy Market Investigation (2016): In one of its biggest cases, the CMA conducted an investigation into the UK energy market after concerns were raised about the lack of competition. The investigation led to a series of reforms to make the market more competitive and fair for consumers.

Google's Acquisition of Looker (2020): The CMA investigated the anticipated acquisition of Looker Data Sciences, Inc. by Google LLC to ensure it wouldn't result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK. The acquisition was cleared after thorough analysis.

Summary:

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is a non-ministerial department of the UK government, which means it operates independently of any specific government ministry but is still a part of the government structure. It is responsible for promoting competition for the benefit of consumers, both within and outside the UK, while its independent status is important for ensuring impartiality. Real-world examples of its work include the Energy Market Investigation and the investigation into Google's acquisition of Looker.

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