- ASCOLA Competition Law series
Edited by Daniel Zimmer
Chapter 9: Efficiency, Political Freedom and the Freedom to Compete – Comment on Maier-Rigaud
9. Efficiency, political freedom and the freedom to compete – comment on Maier-Rigaud Heike Schweitzer* 113 In his interesting contribution on the ‘Normative Foundations of Competition Law’, Maier-Rigaud tries to array important intellectual schools of competition policy with a view to their guiding goals. The ‘more economic approach’ – the approach which Maier-Rigaud seems to follow – takes efficiency to be the predominant goal of EU competition law. The debate which has evolved around the ‘more economic approach’ has frequently been described as a ‘battle of goals’, namely of ‘efficiency versus freedom’, where the ‘freedom to compete’ (or ‘Wettbewerbsfreiheit’) marks a widely recognized normative reference point in the German tradition of competition law. According to Maier-Rigaud, the focus on ‘economic freedom’ is, however, not truly ‘ordoliberal’ – it is, rather, a ‘neoliberal’ aberration from the original ordoliberal position. The ‘real’ ordoliberals were not, or so he claims, concerned with economic liberties. They were concerned with fighting economic power with a view to protecting the foundations of democracy. According to Maier-Rigaud, the much debated ‘more economic approach’ is compatible with the early ordoliberal focus on economic power. It merely breaks with the ‘neoliberal’ tradition – which never had a strong basis in German or EU competition law anyway. This comment takes issue with Maier-Rigaud’s reconstruction of the history of German and EU competition law. More importantly, it strives to present a more nuanced picture of the lines of conflict which the debate surrounding the ‘more economic approach’ has brought to the fore, and which are not...
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