National Competition Authorities in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom: Resources, Independence, and Enforcement

Pierre-Andr Buigues, Roderick Meiklejohn, Aug 26, 2013

Rather than adopting an econometric approach based on a large number of countries, what this paper proposes is an in-depth analysis of the French, the U.K., and German NCAs. In theory, the practices of European NCAs are quite interconnected. The German, French, and the U.K. NCAs’ competition practices are based on the same European competition law and all of them are strongly involved in the activities of the European Competition Network (“ECN”). They keep a watch on European case law and the decision-making practices of the other European NCAs and they are involved in the European meetings of the advisory committees on anticompetitive practices and mergers.

Further, each European NCA informs the other NCAs and the European Commission of the existence of cases that may affect trade between trade Member States. The posting online of the new cases by NCA is also used to identify cross-border cartels and a mechanism has been established to enable the NCAs concerned by such a case to entrust the entire investigation to the best placed NCA. Moreover, the ECN can ask a European NCA to carry out unannounced inspections on behalf of another European NCA or the European Commission.

This paper compares three National Competition Authorities of European countries, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. These NCAs are perceived as being among the best and their practices are based on the same European law. We could expect many similarities on resources, independence, and enforcement of these 3 NCAs. But what are the differences in term of resources, independence, and enforcement? And if possible, how can we explain these differences?

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