Originally from Antitrust and Competition Laws
Chapter Four - EU COMPETITION LAW
The birth of EU competition law is very different from those of pre-modern and U.S. laws. In the Europe of the 1950s, there were no food rioters in French villages demanding action against “monopolistic” grain speculators or demands in the European media for action against large firms. EU competition law was born in the more sedate atmosphere of diplomats and statesmen engaged in a broader endeavor: creation of a common market or “marché commun.” Unlike U.S. antitrust law, EU competition law was intended not only to advance conventional competition goals like consumer welfare or rivalry. More fundamentally, acceptance of competition laws in the EEC Treaty (effective 1958) was based on the rationale that they were necessary to achieve the Treaty goal of a common market among the six original member states.
As it turned out, EU competition law contributed significantly to European history, separate from its contribution to achievement of a common market. The Europe of 1957 with its extensive public sector and state-sanctioned monopolies has morphed into a set of predominantly private sector economies. EU competition law played a critical role in that historical evolution by creating a “competition culture” that in turn significantly contributed to this transformation of European economic structure, political support and popular thought. It was certainly not a given in the 1950s that the original member states intended this result. The competition provisions of the first treaty — the European Coal and Steel Community — were effectively forced on them by the United States, as discussed below. The dirigisme and planification policies of French governments at the time do not suggest a European competition culture in the 1950s.
This chapter discusses the 60-year history of EU competition law and its evolution into one of the world’s most influential and respected competition law systems. The chapter is divided into six parts:
I. Formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC)
II. Treaty Provisions and Institutions of the EEC (now the European Union or EU)
III. Policy Goals: Competition as a Process, Non-Competition Policies and Market Integration
IV. Legal Formalism and Economics
V. Core Triad of Rules on Cartels, Dominant Firms and Mergers: Comparison with U.S. Antitrust Law
Barry E. Hawk is former Director of the Fordham Competition (formally Corporate) Law Institute and former Partner with Skadden Arps (New York and Brussels). He is former Vice Chair of the ABA Antitrust Section and former Chair of the New York State Bar Association Antitrust Section, as well as Professor at Fordham Law School and Visiting Professor at Michigan Law School, Monash University Law School, New York University Law School and the University of Paris.