Juan Briones, Oct 08, 2009
Since the Commission first tackled the oligopoly issue under the Merger Regulation, there has been considerable development of the Commission’s policy in this area and, also, very significant clarifications from the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance. To begin with, the Commission published guidelines for its assessment of coordinated effects under the merger regulation. Quite naturally, the oligopoly issue has arisen often, not to say systematically, since nowadays most markets do present an oligopolistic structure of supply. This is even more valid if we consider the relatively narrow relevant antitrust markets, which are typically defined by reference to substitution in demand. More often than not, leading groups of less than four suppliers account for a large combined share of output in almost any antitrust market. However, is an oligopoly in a collective dominant position? The decision in the Airtours/ First Choice case vastly extended the boundaries of the situations under which the Commission found this may be the case.