Anticompetitive Effects in EU Competition Law

Forthcoming in (2021) 17 Journal of Competition Law & Economics

70 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020 Last revised: 24 Oct 2020

Date Written: May 12, 2020


This article examines the meaning and scope of the notion of anticompetitive effects in EU competition law. It does so by bringing together several strands of the case law (and this across all provisions, namely Articles 101 and 102 TFEU and merger control). The analysis is structured around a framework that considers the main variables that shape the notion in practice: the time variable (actual or potential effects); the dimensions of competition and the counterfactual; the meaning of effects and the probability threshold (plausibility, likelihood, certainty).

The exercise shows that it is possible to discern a concrete meaning to the notion of anticompetitive effects. Some central questions, including the role and operation of the counterfactual and the threshold of effects, have already been answered by the Court of Justice. In particular, it has long been clear that anticompetitive effects amount to more than a mere competitive disadvantage and/or a limitation of a firm’s freedom of action. The impact on equally efficient firms' ability and/or incentive to compete would need to be established.

At the same time, some open questions and some potential areas of friction (relating, inter alia, to stakeholders' tendency to conflate appreciability and effects) remain. These are also discussed.

Keywords: Anticompetitive Effects; ‘Effects-Based’ Approach; EU Competition Law; Merger Control; Article 101 TFEU; Article 102 TFEU

JEL Classification: K21; L14; L24; L41; L42

Suggested Citation

Ibáñez Colomo, Pablo, Anticompetitive Effects in EU Competition Law (May 12, 2020). Forthcoming in (2021) 17 Journal of Competition Law & Economics, Available at SSRN: or

Pablo Ibáñez Colomo (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics