The Many Concepts of Social Justice in European Private Law
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The Many Concepts of Social Justice in European Private Law

Edited by Hans-W. Micklitz

This insightful book, with contributions from leading international scholars, examines the European model of social justice in private law that has developed over the 20th century.
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Chapter 18: Towards a European Model of Economic Justice: The Role of Competition Law

K.J. Cseres


K.J. Cseres Social justice and competition law are at first sight two conflicting disciplines. Competition is primarily concerned with economic efficiency and it is aimed at increasing the overall welfare of society through maintaining rivalry among firms. Its goal is to control economic arrangements according to economic and welfare criteria without distinguishing between different groups of society. Social justice is associated with values of fairness and deservingness and it applies moral criteria to the distribution of wealth and income. There is a growing contradiction, both in legislation and regulations, between the social and economic spheres. It is largely believed that more social justice necessarily means less economic efficiency and vice versa. Accordingly, social justice has often been regarded as an attack on the regulatory framework composed of competition law and contract law, and competition as a market institution governed by economic principles seems to pose a threat to social justice. However, competition is an economic concept embedded in a socio-political and legal system and this has relevant implications for social justice. Neither competition law nor competition policy is made on the basis of simple derivations from analytical economic models. The economic concept of competition has to be transformed into policy goals in order to reconcile different interests of society and it has to be translated into legal rules in order to form clear standards for enforcement. In this process both justice and social objectives are taken into account and, ultimately, normative economic conceptions of competition law take the point of...

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