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Une nouvelle approche à l'égard des abus de monopolisation ?. Quelques commentaires à propos du document de travail de la Commission européenne relatif à l'application de l'article 82 aux abus de monopolisation

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  • Alexandre Vandencasteele
  • Denis Waelbroeck

Abstract

In the context of the modernisation of the EC competition rules, the Commission published in December 2005 a « Discussion Paper » on the application of Article 82 EC to exclusionary abuses, calling for comments. This article considers the merits of the Discussion Paper and the scope for improvement. The principle emphasised in the Discussion Paper that an economic effects based approach should be taken to Article 82 EC is welcomed both for its realism and its greater coherency in relation to the approach taken under Article 81 EC and the merger regulation. The explicit recognition that competition law is there to protect consumers and not competitors and the adoption of an ‘as effective competitor’ test are also positive developments. Nonetheless, often in practice the Discussion Paper fails to translate this desire to reform into appropriate legal tests, often creating unjustified presumptions of dominance and abuse. In this regard, the possibility of presuming dominance on the basis of market shares alone, completely ignoring the dynamic nature of competition, appears particularly problematic. In the case of abuses, the Discussion Paper all too often creates presumptions based on irrelevant factors or conditions that are far too easily fulfilled (for example, the presumption of abuse in case of individualised quantitative rebates, even when these relate to an insignificant proportion of client requirements). Moreover, the defences are too rigid and narrowly defined, preventing economic efficiencies and commercial realities from being sufficiently taken into account. The wholesale transposal of the Article 81(3) EC test to Article 82 EC is particularly regrettable, given that the conditions of indispensibility and absence of elimination of competition appear not to fit in with an analysis of dominant companies’ behaviour. Although no rule is perfect, it must not be forgotten that false positives are just as damaging to competition as false negatives. Failure to take this into account will have the paradoxical effect that competition policy in Europe will chill competition rather than fostering it. Nonetheless, any shortcomings of the Discussion Paper do not detract from its merits. It can only be hoped that later drafts of the Discussion Paper and/or future guidelines build on this already solid base in the spirit of the reform : a fairer, more realistic and economic based approach to Article 82 EC.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexandre Vandencasteele & Denis Waelbroeck, 2006. "Une nouvelle approche à l'égard des abus de monopolisation ?. Quelques commentaires à propos du document de travail de la Commission européenne relatif à l'application de l'article 82 aux abus de mono," Revue internationale de droit économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 89-123.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:riddbu:ride_201_0089
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    Keywords

    Article 82; dominance; abuse; Discussion Paper; reform;

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