Some Reflections on the Question of the Goals of EU Competition Law
CLES Working Paper Series 3/2013
65 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2013 Last revised: 10 Apr 2013
Date Written: January 1, 2013
The study first takes a normative perspective and examines the various goals that have been advanced by competition law literature on the objectives of EU competition law. A critical analysis of this literature shows the weaknesses of an economic welfare approach and the difficulties, as well as some normative objections, to incorporating non-welfare goals in the implementation of EU competition law. The normative perspective is then followed by an analysis of positive EU competition law arriving to the conclusion that the case law of the EU Courts is ambiguous as to the existence of a hierarchy of objectives in EU competition law and that the drafting of the Lisbon Treaty opens the door to a more holistic competition law, in congruent co-existence with the other Treaty provisions and policies instituted by the EU Treaties. The final part criticizes the literature on the goals of EU competition law for its monotonous emphasis on goals. I argue that the choice of a general objective as an enforcement criterion tells us little about whether any particular institution, for example the adjudicative process, should be charged with implementing that criterion. Comparative institutional analysis emphasizes the connections between issues of institutional choice and goals. The question of goals should follow and not precede that of institutional choice. Institutional choice should, however, be comparative and not proceed to choosing an institution without a proper analysis of the weaknesses of the alternative institutions on offer. The conceptualization of the role of courts, and other institutions in a holistic competition law, using comparative institutional analysis, is one of the major challenges faced by EU competition law, and new competition law regimes, in the future.
Keywords: EU competition law, antitrust, objectives, goals, welfare economics, comparative institutional analysis, internal market, consumer welfare, freedom of competition
JEL Classification: K21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation