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Une perspective économique évolutionniste à l'égard des restrictions verticales


  • Simonetta Vezzoso


European competition policy in regard to vertical restraints is currently based on modern industrial economics. As far as vertical restraints are concerned, this influential economic approach has contributed to correcting the former much less positive competition assessment of these practices and has led to a considerable liberalization in the interpretation of the European rules for exempting vertical agreements. This development can be viewed in light of a broader reform involving the whole of EU competition policy, triggered by the need of a more economics-based approach to competition issues. However, the European Commission’s “more economic approach”, putting an emphasis on welfare-economics neoclassical reasoning, widely neglects the impact market practices have on the innovation dimension of competition. This severe deficiency can be seen as part of a more general, still largely unresolved problem concerning how the innovation dimension can be significantly and adequately integrated into competition analysis. The solution to this problem would seem to involve the carving out of some relevant space, in our economic assessment of market practices, for dynamic, or evolutionary, competition theories derived in particular from Austrian, Neo-Austrian and innovation economics. The study’s main concern is not a critique of the current main-stream economic approach to vertical restraints. Rather, it is a thorough investigation, whether and how evolutionary approaches can be used to derive additional arguments and to eventually develop new competition policy criteria for a more satisfactory assessment of vertical restraints. Although the analysis of vertical restraints from an evolutionary perspective is still new and underdeveloped, the present article points to some new arguments that could play an important role in the competition assessment of vertical restraints, both for justifying these practices under certain conditions and for explaining why they can hamper competition, particularly regarding competition as a process of experimentation. In this respect, it is an important result of this study to show that evolutionary approaches to competition are capable of developing different framework for the analysis of vertical relations among firms within the production and distribution chain and, consequently, for assessing the impact of those relations on the competition processes at the different levels of the chain.

Suggested Citation

  • Simonetta Vezzoso, 2008. "Une perspective économique évolutionniste à l'égard des restrictions verticales," Revue internationale de droit économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(3), pages 315-333.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:riddbu:ride_223_0315

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