Government intervention in markets is ubiquitous and takes many forms. This chapter is concerned with two forms of such intervention – economic regulation and competition law and policy – and their relationship within the context of the EU ‘regulated markets’. Traditionally, competition and regulation were seen as two discrete, opposed categories. An industry was either ‘regulated’ or ‘unregulated’, depending on how much firms were left unrestrained to operate in the market. The following general rule applied: the less the State intervenes in the working of markets, the more room for competition. This view was partially sustained in the common, but erroneous statement that sector-specific regulation is an ex ante mechanism for market intervention, whilst competition law applies ex post to cure observable impediments to competition or infringements of law.
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