Boston University School of Law Working Paper No. 06-11
This paper compares competition law in Europe to competition law in the United States.
Policymakers should take the U.S. approach to competition policy, giving businesses the benefit of the doubt in close cases. Punishing business activities that benefit consumers hurts economic growth across the board. Economies open to trade rely less on anti-monopoly law.
- In the United States, courts are reluctant to punish a firm just because it is dominant, and recognize evidence that the firm’s acts benefit consumers.
- In Europe, authorities use relevant competition law (“Article 82”) more aggressively. They are more willing to regulate prices, to claim that a firm’s low prices are predatory, or to require asset sharing (the “essential facilities” doctrine).
- In the U.S., policy recognizes the benefits of giving businesses the benefit of the doubt, to avoid false convictions. European authorities are worried about letting firms get away with bad acts, that is, false acquittals.
- False acquittals are not very harmful, because in the long run consumers and competitors find a way to bypass monopolies.
- The European law risks many false convictions, punishing acts that benefit consumers.
- Countries that rely more on trade tend to have less anti-monopoly law, perhaps because regulators are given a smaller role in open economies.