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Edited by Ariel Ezrachi
Chapter 5: ‘Jaw-jaw’ not ‘law-law’ – from treaties to meetings: the increasing informality and effectiveness of international cooperation
In international competition circles one could spend the year orbiting the globe moving from one competition meeting to another – and some do. The sheer number of diary dates dwarfs even the staggering proliferation of competition treaties, memoranda and accords. To state the obvious: talk is more common than treaty. But is all this just cheap talk? Does it really lead to demonstrable advances in increased understanding, cooperation or convergence on procedural or substantive issues? Are the non-binding ‘best practices’ recommendations that emanate from some for a worth what it took to reach them? Are such soft commitments as valuable as actual treaties? Are they worth the cost of engagement? Meeting up internationally is expensive, after all, given the often distant locales and frequency of appointments. Or is all this talk actually dangerous? Should we be concerned about how even soft commitments are arrived at, when they are agreed by unelected faceless technocrats? Do we need more guarantees of fair process, inclusive engagement and due consideration of the public interest? In this chapter, I try to answer these concerns, and go one further: I submit that in international antitrust, talk is actually more valuable than treaty. International gatherings of competition experts are offering far more benefit than treaties have in this area to date. The talk has led to improved understanding, enforcement cooperation and convergence of rules and approaches.
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