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Technocrats, Populists, Hipsters, and Romantics – Who Else is Lurking in the Corners of the Bar

 |  November 26, 2019

The advent of powerful Tech giants, growing industrial concentration, and increasing levels of wealth disparity have sparked a wide-ranging debate on the aims of competition law. Politicians, the media and academics alike are currently questioning whether the relatively narrow consumer welfare aim, which has been guiding the interpretation of most Western competition regimes for the past few decades, is really achieving desirable results, or whether it is time to call it day, and to return to a broader reading of the law. Few topics seem capable of inflaming competition lawyers’ passions quite like the irksome issue of the law’s true purpose. Unsurprisingly, the debate is not only heated, but ideologically charged and highly polarised. This contribution argues that labels such as antitrust hipsterism, technocracy or populism are not conducive to a meaningful exchange, and that a rational, non-judgmental and evidence-based discussion of the issues would be a more helpful approach to dealing with the current controversy.