Monday, February 29, 2016

Finding a Baseline for Competition Law Enforcement During Crises: Case Study of the 'Irish Beef' Proceedings

Conor C. Talbot, European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW); Trinity College (Dublin) - Department of Economics; LK Shields Solicitors is Finding a Baseline for Competition Law Enforcement During Crises: Case Study of the 'Irish Beef' Proceedings.

ABSTRACT: The aim of this article is to draw on original research and an analysis of legal precedents to discuss the baseline treatment which operators and economic policy actors in a crisis-stricken sector must now expect from competition authorities in the European Union. This article focuses on so-called crisis cartels since they constitute some of the most significant interactions between competition authorities and commercial operators, so the level of certainty and predictability is important for regulators and practitioners alike. The argument is made that a timely public restatement of a comprehensive baseline approach to the application of competition law rules to so-called crisis cartels could well have led to a more optimal solution being found in the Irish beef sector.

Section II examines the developments that set the scene for the case study by describing the background to the measures proposed in the beef sector. Section III sets out the rules which the actors in the beef sector would appear to have deemed to be applicable to them. This particular area of the law had been characterised by a certain amount of flexibility being afforded to actors in previous economic crises encountered by various industries in the EU. However, as Section IV examines, this sense of flexibility gradually dissipated and the final pronouncements on the beef industry litigation and subsequent clarifications are such that a predictable baseline approach is now arguably in place. Sections V and VI provide a comment and some conclusions.

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