EU-China Cross-Border Competition Project

Context and vision:

The Competition project is ideally designed to preserve the optimal functioning of free markets. Its core is that anti-competitive behaviour must be prevented, discouraged, or sanctioned ex post. Sound competition is important for keeping prices of goods and services as low as possible, ensure a wide range of choice, high quality and a healthy level of innovation. Competition rules are present in all major jurisdictions. Within the EU they are enforced by the European Commission as well as by the national competition authorities. In China this falls within the competences of the Anti-Monopoly Commission/Authority.

Research areas:

The four main research pillars are addressed in this project:

  1. Anti-trust policy constitutes a fundamental component of competition policy. Anti-competitive agreements between companies (e.g. cartels) and abuse of a dominant position are a constant concern for competition authorities.
  2. Merger control targets mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, etc ex ante with an eye on ensuring competitive market structures
  3. State aid rules are the basis upon which the European Commission investigates selective financial advantages Member States, but also local government authorities, give to one or more companies. Subsidies, but also beneficial tax schemes or other advantages could hinder the well-functioning of the markets and have major spill-over effects
  4. Liberalisation of markets where competition is introduced in previously monopolistic industries is of key importance in current competition policy and has substantially changed the competitive landscape in the energy, postal services and telecommunications sector.

Competition policy is relevant to all sectors in society, including the public sector. It is concerned with legal, social, economic, political and institutional processes. This project does not only aim to contribute to furthering economic research on competition topics, but it also naturally stimulates interdisciplinary approaches, especially between economics, law, communication as well as political sciences.

The main research question guiding the activities in this project is:

How can we advance competition policies in a methodologically sound manner, looking particularly at legal soundness and consistency, the assessment of efficiencies and advanced economic analysis, and sector-specific considerations as well as political aspects?

Addition questions to look at:

  • How can we carry out meaningful comparative research over different geographical areas (EU-US-China)?
  • What can we learn from comparative studies on competition policy in different jurisdictions (EU-US-China)?
  • Is the application of competition policy across jurisdictions (EU-US-China) consistent with regard to its main pillars and when this is not the case, why not?
  • How can we contribute to and support a competition policy in developing economies?
  • How to conduct ex ante and ex post assessments?
  • What are the effects of competition policy on markets, but also on societies?
  • What should be the place of other public interest considerations such as environmental protection, privacy and diversity/pluralism within competition policy?
  • Which welfare standard is most appropriate in a rapidly changing environment where several public interest considerations frequently surface?
  • What is the influence of procedures and how can they be improved?
  • What is the optimal combination level between public and private enforcement?
  • What is the position of competition issues in free trade agreements?