Decentralization or the Law of Unintended Consequences

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Stephen Kinsella, Anouck Meier, Oct 29, 2008

There is an old saying that you should “be careful what you wish for.” When the overhaul of European antitrust procedure, in the shape of Regulation 1/2003, was first mooted, it seemed to offer a number of potential advantages: for businesses, a lifting of the shackles of prior vetting of their behavior and, for the Commission, the alleviation of the burden of having to turn the pages on so many unnecessary notifications. Five years on, the Commission is carrying out the scheduled review of the success of Regulation 1. To that end it has solicited comments from its “customers.” There are signs that it may have already prejudged the outcome of the consultation in remarks that express satisfaction at how the Regulation has worked stating that antitrust enforcement was both “strengthened and simplified.”  It seems timely to question whether that satisfaction is in fact merited.