Competition vs. Property Rights: American Antitrust Law, the Freiburg School and the Early Years of European Competition Policy
45 Pages Posted: 23 May 2007 Last revised: 22 Apr 2009
Date Written: May 1, 2007
The goal of the paper is to investigate the extent of the influence of American antitrust tradition on the foundation and early years of European competition policy. This as part of a wider research program aiming at assessing the role of economic theory in the development of antitrust law and policy. My argument may be summarized in four propositions. First, by taking into account what I call the "competition versus property rights" dichotomy, it turns out that the economists' contribution to the historical evolution of US antitrust law has been smaller than usually believed. Second, as far as the foundation of EEC competition policy is concerned, the influence of the American antitrust tradition has, again, been less than what is commonly claimed. Third, a crucial role on the birth of EEC antitrust has been played by a law and economics argument based on the constitutional standing of competition rules, an argument put forward by the highly influential Freiburg School of Ordoliberalism. Fourth, the ordoliberal origin of EEC competition rules, when combined with the Community's integration goal, helps explain why the impact of the "competition versus property rights" dichotomy on European antitrust law has been limited and, contrary to the US, always solved more favorably to the "competition" pole than to the "property rights" one.
Keywords: antitrust, EEC, Freiburg School, competition, property rights
JEL Classification: B13, B21, K21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation