Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Commission invites public comment in the fight against abuse of a dominant market position

The European Commission has published a bunch of stuff to invite the public to contribute to a discussion on market dominance and its treatment, given the EU treaty rules. The main paper that is published describes a general framework for analysing abusive exclusionary conduct by a dominant company.

Where a dominant company is present on a market, competition on that market is already weak. The concern of the competition rules is therefore to prevent conduct by that dominant company which risks weakening competition still further, and harming consumers, whether that harm is likely to occur in the short, medium or long term.

It is a good thing that the Commission appears to lighten the old approach. What still worries me though, is that essentially we keep on building Europe on the normative basis of economic competition theory. The Europe that results will be a dreamwork full of mirrors, night-mares where theorists may feel at home and find their way while the general public feels quite uneasy...

Do note that the Commission is anxious to put the consumer in the first place in all these ramblings. My guess is that the Commissions fears creating a further distance with the citizen, leading to a more general NO against the concept of Europe. Consequently we may continue to see a strategy where the Commission takes on the most visible/perceived dominant market players ; this will continue the support of the consumer/citizen. But the road that is being paved while doing so, may in the end lead us to a more ugly than social Europe.

Is the rational economic perfect competition Europe the Europe that we really want..?