The neoliberal crusade for bilateral and multilateral competition rules
Alongside the constructive and consolidating moments of the neoliberal discourse of regulation, the Commission’s DG Competition in alliance with the emerging transnational capitalist class surfaced as a driving force behind a range of bilateral and multilateral competition agreements in the 1990s. Competition regulation was no longer restricted to ‘Brussels’ and the national level, but formed part of the broader political project of establishing global free markets, free from public and private barriers inhibiting competition. This chapter analyses the political struggles that shaped the globalisation of competition regulation. The fi rst three sections examine the politics underpinning the bilateral competition agreements between the EC and the US competition authorities against the background of enhanced commercial cross-border transactions affecting the transatlantic market place, the emerging transnational capitalist class and its quest for more regulatory convergence. Section four explains the proposal for global competition rules at WTO on the basis of the underlying social power relations, whilst section fi ve analyses the politics of contestation that led to its downfall. Section six explains why the International Competition Network and the bilateral agreements concluded under the 2006 agenda ‘Global Europe – Competing in the World’ were chosen as alternative routes to proclaim the convergence of competition rules around the world.