U.S. antitrust policy and EC competition policy began at different times and in very different contexts. U.S. antitrust at first pursued multiple economic and political goals. Against a persistent, if cyclical, campaign that it was at best unnecessary and at worst absolutely harmful, antitrust developed first a reliance on competition in the sense of rivalry to promote good market performance and has lately moved to explicit welfare evaluation, in an economic sense, as a policy standard. How one ought to measure market performance (consumer welfare or net social welfare) remains a subject of discussion. Use of the economic welfare standard is, at this writing, characterized by judicial application that is inconsistent with mainstream economics. EC competition policy long relied on competition in the sense of rivalry to promote market integration and good market performance, the two goals being thought to be largely compatible. It is now in a time of transition, with the Directorate General for Competition and the European Courts moving toward explicit welfare evaluation as a basis for treating business conduct. There are some signs that enforcement agencies regard the market integration task as sufficiently far along to give it less weight, relative to promotion of good market performance, than in the past. Whether this approach will prevail, and whether European Courts will follow, remains to be seen.
antitrust policy, competition policy
Date of this Version