Firm strategies cannot be analyzed without taking into consideration the legal framework which governs the relationships between economic agents, especially competition law. As a consequence, firms have to maneuver through a complex universe, taking account of both the rules of the economic game and the legal ones.
Our purpose is to analyze the legal treatment of anticompetitive practices (agreements and concerted practices that restrict competition and abuse of a dominant position), which are at the heart of modern competition law (in the American context generally referred to as ‘antitrust law’ and in the European one as ‘competition law’). However, we must keep in mind that competition law also covers the control of vertical restrictive practices, merger policy), control of state aid and, in some countries, the prohibition of unfair competition practices. Considering competition goals is essential for understanding the enforcement of competition law.
Even if the wording of the general competition rules seems to be fairly similar, their enforcement may vary considerably among countries (and across time periods), revealing differences in their underlying principles and purposes. Therefore, it is essential to identify the intentions of the law-makers and the priorities of competition authorities. Competition policies and decisional practices are closely dependent on various and sometimes conflicting views related to what competition should be and how firms should develop and interact. This chapter is focused on the examples of the United States of America and the European Union, and points to their divergences and convergences.
BOUTHINON-DUMAS, H. et MARTY, F. (2011). Cartel and Monopoly Policy. Dans: Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm. 1st ed. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, pp. 485-497.