chapter  6
18 Pages

The ascendancy of neoliberal competition regulation in the European Community


Competition regulation constitutes one of the core policy areas of the European Union (EU). Already in the preamble of the Treaty of Rome of 1957, establishing the European Economic Community (EEC, here referred to as EC), competition regulation received a strong constitutional status, laying the legal basis for ‘a system ensuring that competition in the internal market is not distorted’ (Article 3(f )). The actual competition provisions came to comprise the areas of cartels and restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant position, public undertakings and state aid, stipulated in Articles 85 to 94, which after the renumbering through the Treaty of Amsterdam and later the Treaty of Lisbon became Articles 101 to 109 (for the sake of simplicity, the article numbers of the Lisbon Treaty will be used henceforth). Shortly after its inauguration, the Commission’s Directorate General (DG) for Competition was entrusted with far-reaching investigatory and decisional powers in the enforcement of competition laws, and in 1989 these powers were further extended to the field of merger control. To date, there is no comparable Community policy in which the European Commission enjoys similar wide-ranging competences, and in which the member states and the European Parliament have so little to say.