Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Role of Competition in Public Policy

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The Role of Competition in Public Policy
Joint conference of the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy and Regulatory Policy Institute
8th March 2010
One Great George Street, Westminster, London

Writing about the purposes of the conference, Professors Catherine Waddams and George Yarrow have said: “We are firmly of the view that it is important to be clear about the role of competition within the more general portfolio of economic policies, and about what competitive markets can and cannot reasonably be expected to achieve. Following the financial crunch, and in the context of the increasing importance of climate change policy, there has been a tendency toward greater scepticism about the virtues of the competitive markets. This poses significant risks, since the command -and-control/heavy regulation alternatives often create other distortions and unintended consequences. At the same time, some analysts have claimed rather more for competition than is warranted by the evidence, particularly in relation to short-run consumer benefits but also more generally in relation to the achievement of various public policy ‘targets’. Such over-claims can only add to scepticism, and may, when seen to be false, have the unintended effects of promoting anti-competitive regulation and of undermining competitive processes. It is against this background that the conference seeks to bring together leading thinkers and practitioners in the area to consider and discuss the role of competition in public policy, both generally and in a few, more specific, sectoral contexts.”

Confirmed Speakers:
Professor Carl Shapiro - Chief Economist, Antitrust Division, US Dept. of Justice
John Fingleton - Chief Executive, Office of Fair Trading
Peter Freeman - Chairman, Competition Commission
Damien Neven - Chief Economist, DG Competition, European Commission
Professor Sir John Vickers - former Director General, Office of Fair Trading
Professor Catherine Waddams - Director, Centre for Competition Policy, UEA

This conference is arranged jointly by the Regulatory Policy Institute ( and the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia (

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