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Monday, August 3, 2015

Is the road to hell paved with good intentions? Germany proposes a separate body for enforcing the competition rules in EU

The recent proposal by the highly influential German minister of finances Wolfgang Schauble to transfer the powers to enforce the competition rules embodied in the EU treaties from the European Commission to a separate body look fine, but just at the first sight.
It is a challenging position but we must admit that the European Commission has an excellent record and that the influence of the politics is virtually nil in its decisions - sometimes upseting national governments, including that of Germany (for instance, when the Commission took charge of the takeover of E-Plus by Telefonica, in 2014). 
It is, then, difficult to foresee what is the true intention behind such a proposal.
I can only guess that the proposal is not a threat to the actions of the European Commission - highly unlikely from a politician, such as Mr.Schauble - but it signals a more elaborate plan to restructure the application of the competition rules in the EU.
Having a distinct institution in charge with the competition rules could ensure finally the due process, which is under question in the current structure, where the procedure prior to a decision lacks the element of contradictoriality and where the panel of the commissioners decide without much involvment and knowledge of the matter.
On the other hand, if a new European agency would be set up, this would need to take over and subordinate the activities of all the NCAs, including that of Bundeskartelamt.  
We will follow this idea.