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Competition Law in EU Free Trade and Cooperation Agreements (and What the UK Can Expect After Brexit)

Wagner-Von Papp, FH; (2017) Competition Law in EU Free Trade and Cooperation Agreements (and What the UK Can Expect After Brexit). European Yearbook of International Economic Law pp. 301-359. 10.1007/978-3-319-58832-2_10.

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Abstract

Free trade and competition law, for the most part, mutually reinforce each other by breaking up entrenched positions of market power and creating competitive constraints on any entities with market power. Competition law enforcement still adheres mostly to the nineteenth century paradigm of enforcement by sovereign nation states, albeit with extended extraterritorial prescriptive jurisdiction. At the same time national competition law enforcers face an increasingly transnational economy. The increase in free trade and competition advocacy has resulted in a proliferation of national competition law regimes. The patchwork of multiple national enforcement leads to enforcement gaps and enforcement overlaps (Guzman). While some call for global solutions to global problems and advocate a global competition agency (or appointing a lead jurisdiction), it is questionable if such centralisation would be desirable and at any rate it does not seem politically feasible. The intermediate path between pure unilateral enforcement and a centralised global enforcer consists in unilateral enforcement tempered by cooperation and coordination of enforcement activities. Regional cooperation leads to internally relatively homogeneous clusters, and reduces complexity on the global scale. The extremely close cooperation in such regional cooperation agreements is supplemented by a second layer of reciprocal cooperation links, which are characterised by a slightly lower but still high degree of internal homogeneity, and accordingly cooperation that does not go quite as far as the one in the central region. As we move in concentric circles further away from the centre, heterogeneity of competitive conditions or interests increases and the depth of cooperation decreases. This results in regional clusters. Within each cluster, issues of gaps and overlaps can be reduced to the greatest possible extent. Some of the clusters are interconnected among each other by bilateral links (such as CETA between the EU and Canada). Between clusters, the weaker cooperation and coordination may not resolve all gaps and overlaps, but as global heterogeneity of views on competition policy decreases through the work of international organisations (such as the OECD, the ICN or APEC), gradual progress is made here as well. This contribution exemplifies the concentric circles of cooperation around the EU by examining the intergovernmental and inter-agency agreements concluded by the EU to face the complexities of the transnational economy of the twenty-first century. It then turns to a development that does not fit this neat picture of ever-increasing cooperation at all: Brexit and its implications.

Type: Article
Title: Competition Law in EU Free Trade and Cooperation Agreements (and What the UK Can Expect After Brexit)
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-58832-2_10
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-58832-2_10
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1555696
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