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Is Criminalization of EU Competition Law the Answer?

52 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2005  

Wouter P. J. Wils

King's College London; European Commission


This paper, presented at the Amsterdam Center for Law and Economics (ACLE) Conference on 'Remedies and Sanctions in Competition Policy: Economic and Legal Implications of the Tendency to Criminalize Antitrust Enforcement in the EU Member States' (Amsterdam, 17-18 February 2005) addresses five questions concerning criminalization of EU antitrust enforcement: First, what do we mean by 'criminalization,' or 'criminal' enforcement (as opposed to public enforcement of a 'civil' or 'administrative' nature)? Second, is there a tendency in the EU Member States to criminalize antitrust enforcement (in comparison with US antitrust enforcement and with antitrust enforcement at the level of the EU institutions)? Third, is criminal antitrust enforcement, more specifically imprisonment, desirable (in general, irrespective of whether it takes places at the level of the Member States or of the EU institutions, or whether it is harmonized at EU level)? Fourth, is it problematic that antitrust enforcement is criminalized at the level of individual EU Member States without parallel criminalization at the level of the EU institutions or without EU harmonization? Fifth, would it be legally possible to criminalize antitrust enforcement at the level of the EU institutions, or to have EU harmonization of criminal antitrust enforcement in the Member States?

Keywords: antitrust, criminalization, cartels, EU

JEL Classification: K14, K21, L40, L41

Suggested Citation

Wils, Wouter P. J., Is Criminalization of EU Competition Law the Answer?. World Competition: Law and Economics Review, Vol. 28, No. 2, June 2005; REMEDIES AND SANCTIONS IN COMPETING POLICY: ECONOMIC AND LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE TENDENCY TO CRIMINALIZE ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT IN THE EU MEMBER STATES, K. J. Cseres, M. P. Schinkel, & F.O.W. Vogelaar, eds., Edward Elgar, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Wouter P. J. Wils (Contact Author)

King's College London

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

European Commission ( email )

Brussels, B-1049

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