Nine Next Steps for Transatlantic Antitrust Policy Cooperation

William Kovacic, Oct 19, 2011

The enhancement of cooperation in competition policy between the European Union and the United States is a genuine success story in the modern transatlantic relationship. Despite differences in philosophy, process, analytical method, and, sometimes, substantive outcomes, the 1991 EU/US Cooperation Agreement (“1991 Agreement”) has helped foster impressive progress by public and non-government bodies in both jurisdictions to strengthen the foundations of competition policy governing transatlantic commerce. Not only have the European Union and the United States taken significant steps to work more effectively together, their cooperation has provided important insights for building a framework of global and regional cooperation through multinational networks such as the International Competition Network (“ICN”) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”).

This essay celebrates past achievements under the 1991 Agreement and prescribes nine actions to further these achievements. The European Union and the United States have built a strong relationship over the past two decades, yet much depends on their ability and commitment to do still better. Sustained efforts to reinforce existing ties and devise new links are necessary to ensure that the largely friendly rivalry between the European Union and the United States acts as a positive force for the transatlantic policy and inspires the development of sound global norms of process and substance.

Indeed, this latter consideration is assuming ever-greater importance. Even though the EU and U.S. duopoly of policy-making power gives way to a loose oligopoly whose members include China and India, these transatlantic partners, owing to the scope and depth of their experience, remain enormously influential in the formation of international standards. The European Union and the United States must recognize their common cause and shared responsibility to do what they can to see that the global expansion of competition improves economic performance and increases the well-being of consumers.

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