Exploring Aspects of the State of Competition in the EU

There is growing evidence that over the past few decades competition across markets in the EU may have weakened: industry concentration and markups appear to have increased, while the gap between market leaders and followers seems to have widened and business dynamism seems to have declined. Against this background, this report investigates four important aspects of the state of competition in the EU. First, six sectoral cross-country price-concentration studies provide qualitative and, for mobile telecoms and airlines, empirical evidence that higher concentration seems to be associated with higher prices. Secondly, an analysis of the evolution of ‘Global Superstars’ (i.e. the most profitable of the world’s largest firms) finds that their profit rates have increased significantly over the last 25 years, and that the distribution of profits has become more skewed. We also study how Global Superstars in the IT, pharma and consumer goods sectors are protected by barriers to entry. Thirdly, a survey of EU-based exporting firms suggests that effective domestic competition within the Single Market (i) is an important driver of their global export competitiveness (in particular effective competition in upstream goods markets) and (ii) is for a majority of respondents not constraining their scale in a way which would prevent them from being successful on global export markets. Finally, relying on own estimates of markups for 117,000 firms from 23 EU Member States and a general equilibrium macroeconomic model, we estimate based on three simulation scenarios that more effective competition across markets in the EU would likely contribute significantly to more investment, employment, productivity and increase GDP by more than 2% and 4% after 5 and 10 years respectively.

The virtue of an imperfect competition law

Imperfect competition is not necessarily a curse. It evokes an environment in which firms compete on multiple dimensions to satisfy heterogeneous consumer preferences. This can create a tension between conflicting social objectives. Inevitably, we must decide which of these objectives should guide competition law. In making this decision, we must accept that it is impossible to reconcile these objectives or to classify them in an order that applies to all, at all times. Thus, the choice of which objective to pursue is a moral choice. However, we can still give competition law a specific objective, since other policies may pursue other objectives. The objective of competition law should be chosen by considering the main features of competition law rules. These rules are stable, technical and their violation carries severe penalties.
These themes are discussed in this article published by Competition Policy International in the October 2021 issue of the Antitrust Chronicle. The article concludes that the value that best fits these characteristics is a narrow notion of total welfare.

EX POST ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF COMPETITION POLICY: THE EU EXPERIENCE

The publication contributes to a better knowledge of the economic impact of this policy, which is essential for the good functioning of the internal market in the European Union. Competition authorities are increasingly interested in understanding the impact of their activities on markets and consumers. The goal is to improve competition policy rules and decision-making practices and to get robust evidence on the benefits of competition and competition policy for society as a whole. Discussions with competition authorities, practitioners and academics have shown the need to take stock of the experience gained in this field by the European Commission and to present it in an easily accessible way. 

Paolo Buccirossi, Alessia Marrazzo and Salvatore Nava wrote two chapters concerning the T-Mobile/Orange UK Merger Case and the Telekomunikacja Polska Antitrust Case.

Marca, Internet e contrasto alla disinformazione

The publication, issued by Centromarca, the Italian Brand Industry Association, provides insights on how the image of a company and its brands can be damaged by unfounded news, fake news. The manual provides useful tips for the management of reputational issues, legal aspects and property damage.

Concorrenza, mercato e diritto dei consumatori

The volume aims at providing a comprehensive view on competition law and consumer protection, also in light of the most recent case law. The volume also looks at the interaction between law and economics when it comes to competition matters. Paolo and Salvatore have written two chapters, one on the role of economics in merger control; and the other on the broader theme of the role of economics, and economists, within antitrust proceedings.