Bruno Lasserre, May 20, 2011
With the economic recession taking over from the financial crisis of 2008, attention has focused less on issues such as merger review and State aid control, and more on antitrust properly speaking, meaning the prohibition of cartels and abuses of dominance, as well as the enforcement of this prohibition by means of administrative fines imposed on corporations and/or of criminal penalties directed to individuals. Among other items, this agenda has included the following questions: 1) whether corporate fines are excessive or indeed misdirected and should be replaced in whole or at least in part by individual penalties; 2) whether antitrust enforcement itself is a luxury good or even an idea of yesterday, and should be abandoned or at least significantly relaxed.
In the following pages, I will briefly address these two issues. I will do so in reverse order, since discussing the significance of public antitrust enforcement via administrative fines and/or criminal penalties makes little sense if this enforcement has become irrelevant in the first place. I will not deal with the separate issue of private enforcement.