EU/Competition: Crushing competition abuse
During the past 20 years, the competition law assessment of mergers, cartels and distribution agreements has evolved dramatically. Cases in these areas now rely on assessment of possible consumer harm based on detailed economic analysis. The modernisation of competition law did not, however, have an impact on Article 82, the European Commission (EC) Treaty provision prohibiting "abuse of a dominant position". Article 82 remained fixed in a 1970s time warp. The definition of both dominance and abuse increasingly appeared arbitrary, unsupported by either competition policy or economic analysis. There were relatively few Article 82 cases. Only large market-leading companies tended to concern themselves with Article 82 issues - and generally did so only after they had already been subject to investigation under Article 82.
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