The future of EU competition policy

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The future of EU competition policycalls for a radical rethink of how competition policy is run.

The author argues for a new ‘European Competition Agency’ to take the politics out of merger and anti-trust investigations. This body should co-operate more closely with US authorities, paving the way for a ‘World Competition Organisation’.

In competition matters, the European Commission has more power than in any other policy area. Mario Monti can make or break the world’s biggest companies. This CER pamphlet applauds many of his achievements and calls for greater legal convergence inside the EU. Divergent member- state laws undermine the single market and cause anomalies in, for example, the use of criminal sanctions.

But the paper also questions whether the Commission has the right institutional basis to manage increasingly high-profile competition cases. European regulators need to respond more rapidly to new challenges, including enlargement of the EU, the move to a knowledge-based economy and the globalisation of business.

A ‘European Competition Agency’ would increase transparency and accountability in decisionmaking. It could also boost the EU’s international credibility as a legitimate regulator of multinationals, who must do more themselves to police competition. Transatlantic disputes, such as the GE-Honeywell case, are rare but politically and economically damaging. A new ‘World Competition Organisation’ would reassure both CEOs and anti-globalisation protesters that multinationals will be regulated fairly and consistently.

is head of the business and economics unit of the Centre for European Reform.

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