ASCOLA Competition Law series
Edited by Josef Drexl and Fabiana Di Porto
Chapter 4: New powers – new vulnerabilities? A critical analysis of market inquiries performed by competition authorities
In the past two decades the number of jurisdictions which have empowered their competition authorities to engage in market inquiries (MIs) has grown substantially. Although jurisdictions differ in the scope and procedure adopted for such studies, they all share an important common trait: the attempt to allocate the roots of limited competition in the studied market. Market studies differ from traditional competition law tools in their triggers, range, object, and the level of pro-activity of the competition authority. They are not triggered by a suspicion of anti-competitive conduct of specific firms, but rather allow the authority to use a broad prism which focuses on a wider set of potential obstacles to competition, including the authority’s own past conduct, in order to find ways to enhance competition. MIs entail many advantages. Yet bestowing this power upon a competition authority is not self-explanatory. Furthermore, it is far from costless. Beyond the direct costs imposed on both the authority and market participants, MIs often carry less tangible price tags. They raise a host of constitutional, democratic and practical issues that have not been thoroughly studied as of yet, and these are the focus of this chapter. In examining these issues, the chapter builds, inter alia, on the recent administrative law literature which focuses on multi-agency interactions. Accordingly, this chapter seeks to provide a synergetic analysis of MIs for the benefit of policymakers.
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