Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The world turn’d upside down

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Peter Freeman (Chairman, Competition Commission) delivered a speech The world turn’d upside down.

ABSTRACT: The line from which the title phrase is taken is from a ballad sung in protest against the abolition by Oliver Cromwell of Christmas festivities at the time of the English Civil War. We are not facing civil strife today, but we are facing economic strife on a scale not seen since the 1930s. In that sense, our world has indeed turned upside down.

This is a critical time for both competition policy and competition enforcement. These of course are different things, and we should be clear what we mean by them. Policy is the overall framework which provides the objectives and justification for what we do. Enforce-ment means the actions taken by authorities in pursuit of those objectives. I have always thought that the idea of ‘enforcing’ competition is rather heroic. Enforcing the law that prohibits infringements as in the case of Articles 81 and 82, yes; but in the CC’s case, with our job of investigating mergers and markets, as well as our regulatory role, we are better described as acting to maintain, restore or promote competition, depending on the circum-stances.

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