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A Study of U.S. Antitrust and EU Competition Law Policy - The assessment of a possible restraint on competition

Sporre, Amanda LU (2012) JURM02 20121
Department of Law
Abstract
As globalization is emerging, competition law has grown from being mainly a national matter to a global concern.

Starting from different traditions, EU competition law has moved towards U.S. competition law in some ways, yet not in others. Some consider the modernization process of EU competition law, initiated in 2004, an acceptance of U.S. antitrust thinking by embracing a more economic approach to competition law. It has been suggested that TFEU Article 101 is to be seen as a structured Rule of Reason, a fundamental principle in U.S. antitrust law. The Rule of Reason is based on evaluation of the pro and anti-competitive aspects of a given agreement between undertakings. By this, the U.S. system has come to be called an... (More)
As globalization is emerging, competition law has grown from being mainly a national matter to a global concern.

Starting from different traditions, EU competition law has moved towards U.S. competition law in some ways, yet not in others. Some consider the modernization process of EU competition law, initiated in 2004, an acceptance of U.S. antitrust thinking by embracing a more economic approach to competition law. It has been suggested that TFEU Article 101 is to be seen as a structured Rule of Reason, a fundamental principle in U.S. antitrust law. The Rule of Reason is based on evaluation of the pro and anti-competitive aspects of a given agreement between undertakings. By this, the U.S. system has come to be called an “effects-based” system, in contrast to the European system that is called the “form-based” system. The disputed scope of application of TFEU Article 101 renders legal uncertainty.

One of the most complex issues for competition law to handle is the tension between producer welfare and consumer welfare. In Europe, competition law has historically embraced social justice and been part of the political system. The American system, on the other hand, applies more of an economic efficiency perspective, related to consumer welfare.

The structure of TFEU Article 101 does not only cause confusion as to what is to be considered when applying it; possibly, it is the ultimate evidence of the confused view on competition of the EU. Furthermore, the confusion is fueled by the rather contradictory take on the provision by the CJEU. As long as the aims of the provision are not elucidated, the confusion remains.

To consider the overall aims and political agenda of the EU when assessing possible restraints on competition seems difficult to reconcile with the rather economic approach that is stated in TFEU Article 101. Additionally, it is even more of a step away from the guidelines for the interpretation of the provision, provided by the Commission and the purely economic approach to competition that is the foundation of American antitrust law.

It has to be remembered that the systems are fundamentally different, even if it does not always seem like the prohibited conduct on the liberated market differs too much between the two systems. One significant conclusion is that the aims of the provisions are likely not comparable; the assessment of an agreements restraining effect on competition is done by considering several different factors. TFEU Article 101 is not a codification of the Rule of Reason, but rather a by-product of a different philosophy, and it seems as if the express mention of U.S. terminology in EU competition law, especially by the CJEU, only serve to compound problems and confusion. The similarities between the two systems in the fundamental competition law thinking are rather an effect of the need for adjustment to changing conditions, globally. Those conditions will continually keep on changing, and competition law will have to follow. Hopefully with clear and predictable provisions on prohibited conduct. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
EU:s konkurrensrätt och dess amerikanska motsvarighet har ursprung som på många sätt skiljer sig från varandra. Men systemen har många likheter, och dessa verkar öka i takt med att världen blir alltmer globaliserad. Somliga ser till och med den moderniseringsprocess som genomfördes 2004 som ett uttryck för att EU accepterat delar av det amerikanska sättet att se på och tillämpa konkurrensrätten.

En av de mest omdiskuterade frågorna inom EU:s konkurrensrätt är tillämpningen av Lissabonfördragets artikel 101. Det har anförts att artikeln är en kodifierad variant av en av de grundläggande rättsprinciperna inom den amerikanska konkurrensrätten; the Rule of Reason. Denna princip bygger på att ett avtals konkurrensmässiga för- och nackdelar... (More)
EU:s konkurrensrätt och dess amerikanska motsvarighet har ursprung som på många sätt skiljer sig från varandra. Men systemen har många likheter, och dessa verkar öka i takt med att världen blir alltmer globaliserad. Somliga ser till och med den moderniseringsprocess som genomfördes 2004 som ett uttryck för att EU accepterat delar av det amerikanska sättet att se på och tillämpa konkurrensrätten.

En av de mest omdiskuterade frågorna inom EU:s konkurrensrätt är tillämpningen av Lissabonfördragets artikel 101. Det har anförts att artikeln är en kodifierad variant av en av de grundläggande rättsprinciperna inom den amerikanska konkurrensrätten; the Rule of Reason. Denna princip bygger på att ett avtals konkurrensmässiga för- och nackdelar vägs mot varandra vid bedömningen av ett avtals konkurrensbegränsande verkan. Oklarheterna kring vad som ska beaktas vid en bedömning under Lissabonfördragets artikel 101 leder till en rättsosäkerhet som länge har präglat EU:s konkurrensrätt.

Konkurrensrätt är ett mycket komplext rättsområde. En av de svåraste frågorna för lagstiftaren att hantera är den som rör vilka syften konkurrensrätten ska tjäna. EU har sen de första konkurrensrättsliga reglerna antogs fokuserat på, och använt konkurrensrätten som ett verktyg för att uppnå, de uppsatta politiska målen. I USA har fokus istället legat på ekonomiska faktorer och effektiv konkurrens har varit ett mål i sig.

Att beakta EU:s övergripande mål vid tillämpningen av EU:s konkurrensrätt är något som är svårt att sammanfoga med ett ökat ekonomiskt fokus inom rättsområdet. En sådan inställning motsägs också av de riktlinjer som Kommissionen utfärdat rörande tolkningen av Lissabonfördragets artikel 101, och inte minst av påståendet att en tillnärmning av EU:s konkurrensrätt i förhållande till den mer ekonomiskt inriktade amerikanska konkurrensrätten ska ha skett.

Vid närmare undersökning av historiska faktorer och bakomliggande mål med de båda rättssystemen kan slutsatsen dras att de tjänar olika syften, och att the Rule of Reason och Lissabonfördragets artikel 101 därför knappast är jämförbara. Att hävda att Lissabonfördragets artikel 101 är en kodifiering av den amerikanska Rule of Reason är inte korrekt, snarare är denna regel ett uttryck för, och en produkt av, en helt annan filosofi. Det verkar som att användandet av amerikansk terminologi för att namnge ett europeiskt rättsinstitut snarare bidragit till att skapa förvirring angående detta instituts syfte och mål, än att ge det en lämplig benämning.

De likheter som ändå finns mellan systemen, för det kan inte förnekas att sådana existerar, härrör mer än något annat ur den omständigheten att båda systemen ska tjäna liknande verkligheter, och synen på konkurrensrätt blir mer likartad och mindre nationellt präglad allteftersom världen globaliseras. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Sporre, Amanda LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20121
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Law, Jurisprudence, Comparative law, EU law, Competition law, Antitrust law
language
English
id
2362751
date added to LUP
2012-08-31 13:51:04
date last changed
2012-08-31 13:51:04
@misc{2362751,
  abstract     = {As globalization is emerging, competition law has grown from being mainly a national matter to a global concern. 

Starting from different traditions, EU competition law has moved towards U.S. competition law in some ways, yet not in others. Some consider the modernization process of EU competition law, initiated in 2004, an acceptance of U.S. antitrust thinking by embracing a more economic approach to competition law. It has been suggested that TFEU Article 101 is to be seen as a structured Rule of Reason, a fundamental principle in U.S. antitrust law. The Rule of Reason is based on evaluation of the pro and anti-competitive aspects of a given agreement between undertakings. By this, the U.S. system has come to be called an “effects-based” system, in contrast to the European system that is called the “form-based” system. The disputed scope of application of TFEU Article 101 renders legal uncertainty. 

One of the most complex issues for competition law to handle is the tension between producer welfare and consumer welfare. In Europe, competition law has historically embraced social justice and been part of the political system. The American system, on the other hand, applies more of an economic efficiency perspective, related to consumer welfare. 

The structure of TFEU Article 101 does not only cause confusion as to what is to be considered when applying it; possibly, it is the ultimate evidence of the confused view on competition of the EU. Furthermore, the confusion is fueled by the rather contradictory take on the provision by the CJEU. As long as the aims of the provision are not elucidated, the confusion remains. 

To consider the overall aims and political agenda of the EU when assessing possible restraints on competition seems difficult to reconcile with the rather economic approach that is stated in TFEU Article 101. Additionally, it is even more of a step away from the guidelines for the interpretation of the provision, provided by the Commission and the purely economic approach to competition that is the foundation of American antitrust law.

It has to be remembered that the systems are fundamentally different, even if it does not always seem like the prohibited conduct on the liberated market differs too much between the two systems. One significant conclusion is that the aims of the provisions are likely not comparable; the assessment of an agreements restraining effect on competition is done by considering several different factors. TFEU Article 101 is not a codification of the Rule of Reason, but rather a by-product of a different philosophy, and it seems as if the express mention of U.S. terminology in EU competition law, especially by the CJEU, only serve to compound problems and confusion. The similarities between the two systems in the fundamental competition law thinking are rather an effect of the need for adjustment to changing conditions, globally. Those conditions will continually keep on changing, and competition law will have to follow. Hopefully with clear and predictable provisions on prohibited conduct.},
  author       = {Sporre, Amanda},
  keyword      = {Law,Jurisprudence,Comparative law,EU law,Competition law,Antitrust law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {A Study of U.S. Antitrust and EU Competition Law Policy - The assessment of a possible restraint on competition},
  year         = {2012},
}