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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More Aggressive Antitrust Enforcement by European Authorities

Under pressure from Washington, Europe takes a hard line on monopoly power derived through cartels and other means. Interestingly, the mechanism seems to be, at least in part, a decentralization of antitrust authority:

A Crackdown on Cartels by European Regulators, by James Kanter, NY Times: It was the kind of smoking gun that antitrust investigators dream of: a note, handwritten by the president of France Télécom, the largest French cellphone operator, describing plans to carve up the market the same way wartime leaders carved up the Continent in 1945. "Unjustifiable," the French Competition Council ruled this month. ... Across Europe, formerly docile cartel authorities are cracking down on collusion in economically weighty sectors like telecommunications, construction and banking. ... The action against telecommunications operators in France mirrors similarly aggressive activities in Germany, Italy and Britain. The upswing comes as the European Commission gives more leeway to local authorities. With an enlarged European Union of 25 countries, the commission formally jettisoned some of its antitrust responsibilities last year, leaving it to national authorities to monitor their own markets while the European Union concentrates on catching bigger fish operating across national borders. Another factor behind the change, said Julian Joshua, a former top cartel enforcer at the commission, is pressure from Washington to stamp out overseas cartels that damage United States interests...

    Posted by on Tuesday, December 27, 2005 at 12:26 AM in Economics, Market Failure, Policy, Regulation | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (1)

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