Whose Regulation, Which Competition?
ASCOLA Competition Law series
Edited by Hanns Ullrich
Chapter 6: Cooperative Networking: Bridging the Cooperation–Concentration Gap
Maria Manuel Leitão Marques and Ana Abrunhosa* I INTRODUCTION Cooperation between firms is now a powerful tool in the orchestration of markets in a world economy. In some sectors, such as airlines, cooperation has been losing its contractual nature and is becoming much more institutional, closer to a concentration. In others, like the electronics or automobile industries, the contractual element is still there and cooperation is far more precarious and flexible. But even in these sectors, cooperation has become a structural necessity to ensure competitiveness rather than being a cyclical instrument for resolving a short-term problem. Are these changes so important and widespread as to change the basic paradigm that has inspired competition law and policy during the 20th century? In a new emergent paradigm, should networks (far more than firms) become the units to be considered by competition law? In that case, should competition law be chiefly concerned with cooperation between networks and rather less with the formation of networks themselves, except when these totally eliminate competition? Ought competition law to confine itself to securing conditions which guarantee that other competitors (new entrants) have access to the relevant market? Should it devalue the restrictions that arise, for the partners themselves, from such an alliance or network? Or should competition law consider both internal and external competition restrictions? These are some of the questions that we are going to discuss in this study. First, we will describe three cases of inter-firm horizontal cooperation (airline * M. M. Leitão Marques...
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