Is EU Merger Control Used for Protectionism? An Empirical Analysis

Journal for Empirical Legal Studies 14:4, December 2017, Forthcoming

Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper No. 571

47 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2017  

Anu Bradford

Columbia Law School

Robert J. Jackson, Jr.

Professor of Law

Jonathon Zytnick

Columbia University

Date Written: June 23, 2017

Abstract

The European Commission has often used its merger-review power to challenge high-profile acquisitions involving non-EU companies, giving rise to concerns that its competition authority has evolved into a powerful tool for industrial policy. The Commission has been accused of deliberately targeting foreign—especially American—acquirers, while facilitating the creation of European national champions. These concerns, however, rest on a few famous anecdotes. In this Article, we introduce a unique dataset that allows us to provide the first rigorous examination of these claims. Our analysis of the over 5,000 mergers reported to the Commission between 1990 and 2014 reveals no evidence that the Commission has systematically used its authority to protectionist ends. If anything, our results suggest that the Commission is less likely to challenge transactions involving non-EU acquirers. Our analysis therefore challenges the common notion of European antitrust protectionism and shifts the burden of proof to those advancing this view.

Keywords: European Commission, EU Merger Control, EU, protectionism, antitrust, antitrust protectionism

Suggested Citation

Bradford, Anu and Jackson, Jr., Robert J. and Zytnick, Jonathon, Is EU Merger Control Used for Protectionism? An Empirical Analysis (June 23, 2017). Journal for Empirical Legal Studies 14:4, December 2017, Forthcoming; Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper No. 571. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3003955

Anu Bradford (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10009

Robert J. Jackson, Jr.

Professor of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Jonathon Zytnick

Columbia University ( email )

420 W. 118th Street, MC 3308
New York, NY 10027
United States

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