Chapter 1: The Origins and Scope of European Competition Policy: Themes and Purpose
1. The origins and scope of European competition policy: themes and purpose Some 53 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome there is ample scope to debate the achievements, near misses and failures of the European Union (EU). One aspect of European governance, however, is undeniable, namely the priority and centrality of the competition principle throughout the history of the European integration process. As an issue of low politics, and one that is particularly complex, competition policy was arguably an ideal sector for initial functionalist co-operation towards the creation of a common (and later) single market. Even so it must be stressed that competition policy as an idea and logic was controversial in its own right among the states of Western Europe. It was a new departure and consequently, any plans to delegate powers to the supranational level not only were problematic but raised controversies about at which level power should be exerted, how it should be exercised and who should enforce it. Nevertheless and with hindsight it is clear that these problems were overcome and that the development of competition policy within the EU represents one of the success stories of the entire European integration process and offers one of the first and best examples of supranational governance in action. Indeed, the EU competition policy regime gradually stamped its influence on the perceptions, structures and approaches of the national competition regimes within the EU as the latter have either opted to converge voluntarily with many aspects of...
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