Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Thursday, July 12, 2007

European Competition Policy in International Markets

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Marc Ivaldi of University of Toulouse and Olivier Bertrand of Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne have a new working paper titled European Competition Policy in International Markets.  Determining the appropriate institutional choice for issues of global antitrust is critical and something that I have written about myself here.

ABSTRACT: Changes in the institutional, technological and economic environment raise new challenges to the European competition policy. In this context, it is timely for European authorities to appraise the external dimension of the European competition policy as well as its articulation with current internal reforms. Globalisation can increase the costs of monitoring and seriously reduce the ability of European authorities to tackle cross-border anti-competitive conducts. In addition, conflicts are exacerbated by industrial policy motivations.

As it is unlikely that the sole application of the territoriality and extraterritoriality principles to competition rules could yield an optimal international competition system, globalisation calls for higher levels and types of cooperation. Given that bilateral cooperation and especially the implementation of comity principles could be of no value when laws or interests are sources of international conflicts, three main paths could be therefore encouraged: The continuous harmonization of rules through the joint action of OECD and ICN; the higher cooperation in the confidential information exchange; the establishment of global anti-trust institutions.

Although WTO is legitimate in judging questions related market access and entry barriers, it is less equipped to assess international hard core cartels or M&A reviews. As a substitute for WTO, a multilevel system, like the EU system, could be promoted. For political and pragmatic reasons, it could be composed in a first step of a hard core of countries like the EU, Japan and the U.S. It could be associated with the creation of an international Court of Justice for competition. In addition to these external reforms, some internal reforms could be required.

Competition authorities have to develop further competition advocacy to give a higher priority to competition issues in other EU policies and national regulation. A parallel and complementary reform could consist in making the European competition agency independent from State Members' interference.

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