U.S. Antitrust and EU Competition Policy: Where has the Former Been, Where is the Latter Going?
The earliest U.S. antitrust laws were adopted after technological changes — most importantly, the development of a national railway network — made the U.S. political union a single economic market. They were adopted with the stated, and no doubt largely sincere, purposes of preventing collusion and strategic entry-deterring behavior. Early application of the antitrust laws relied on a rule of competition to determine whether business conduct was or was not permitted. This has evolved into an explicit evaluation of the impact of businesses practices on consumer welfare, conceived of and measured in an economic sense. EU competition policy was adopted in advance of economic integration. It differed sharply from the traditional policies of the original EC6 member states toward business behavior. It was adopted with the stated, and most likely sincere, purpose of furthering economic integration, and to this end prohibited practices that were seen as distorting competition. Early applications of competition policy, particularly in the European Coal and Steel Community, may have had perverse effects. There are indications of an evolution towards an economic performance standard in the European Union as well.
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