Section 2 Symposium: David Evans–An Economist’s View

The treatment of unilateral conduct remains an intellectual and policy mess as we finish out the first decade of the 21st century. There were signs of hope a few years ago. The European Commission embarked on an effort to adopt an effects-based approach to unilateral conduct and to move away from the analytically-empty, object-based approach developed by the European Courts.  Meanwhile the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice embarked on a series of hearings on unilateral conduct that brought the best thinkers together and hoped to achieve some consensus.  Hopes were dashed in 2008.  The Justice Department and the FTC splintered. The DOJ issued a lengthy report that for all intents and purposes argued for significantly limiting the circumstances under which a business practice could be found to constitute anticompetitive unilateral conduct. Three of the four sitting Federal Trade Commissioners quickly asserted their fundamental disagreement. Towards the end of the year the European Commission finally issued a document that adopted an effects-based approach, sort of, but only for guidance for its prosecutorial discretion over which cases it would focus its resources on.  I say “sort of” because although much of the framework it adopts is quite sensible, the Commission places virtually insurmountable obstacles to considering efficiencies. (For a comparative review of the EC and DOJ reports see my article here.)

Read the full piece here.