Social Capture of EU Competition Policy

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2019-36

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance Research Paper No. 2019-01

Jean Monnet Working Paper No. 09/18

34 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2019 Last revised: 24 Nov 2019

See all articles by Jan Broulík

Jan Broulík

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

This article argues that EU competition policy may be becoming more lenient through social capture. Social capture is a process whereby the social environment of public officials consciously or inadvertently shapes their policy-relevant views in a direction that serves the regulated entities. Unlike in other areas of public policy, the social environment influencing competition officials is not formed by the actual regulated entities, i.e. highly heterogeneous big business, but rather by the competition practitioners advising and representing them. The practitioners work mainly for large corporate defendants, which leads to their community leaning strongly towards non-interventionism. Because of the following three channels of social influence, this worldview may become endorsed also by competition officials: First, the officials often socially identify with the community of practitioners. Second, the officials tend to perceive the practitioners as having higher status. And, third, many officials regularly interact and develop relationships with the practitioners. The risk of social capture needs to be taken seriously considering the major efforts of big business to make EU competition policy more lenient through other avenues such as lobbying and sponsored research. The article also discusses measures to address social capture, cautioning nevertheless that its causes may at the same time generate countervailing policy benefits.

Keywords: competition policy, regulatory capture, social influence, non-interventionism, lobbying, big business

JEL Classification: K2, K4, K21, K42

Suggested Citation

Broulík, Jan, Social Capture of EU Competition Policy (2019). Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2019-36; Jean Monnet Working Paper No. 09/18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3487616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3487616

Jan Broulík (Contact Author)

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance ( email )

P.O.Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000 BA
Netherlands

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