Twenty Years of Transatlantic Antitrust Cooperation: The Past and the Future

Rachel Brandenburger, Oct 14, 2011

I am deeply honored to have been asked to contribute to the celebratory publication of articles marking the 20th anniversary of the US/EU Cooperation Agreement. My appointment by then-Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney as Special Advisor, International, at the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), demonstrates the importance the Antitrust Division attaches to international cooperation, and it gives me personally a privileged perspective on the nature of such cooperation with both the European Commission and the antitrust agencies around the world. Against that backdrop, I offer the following reflections on 20 years of transatlantic antitrust cooperation.

A mere 18 months passed between then-Competition Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan’s first public reference to “the desirability of a treaty or less formal agreement” to deal with “the possibility of conflicts of jurisdiction” and the signing of the US-EC bilateral antitrust cooperation agreement on September 23, 1991. It is not surprising that the negotiators, including then-Assistant Attorney General Jim Rill, were able to produce the text-which became the model for many subsequent U.S. antitrust cooperation agreements-in a relatively short time, by the standards of international negotiations. This was clearly an idea whose time had come. Indeed, as then-Acting Attorney General Bill Barr noted upon signing, “the increasing integration of [the U.S. and EU] econom

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