Tribune. At a time when the theme of economic sovereignty is entering the debates and when Europe intends to better regulate the digital giants, competition policy seems to have lost its primacy. Some even consider that it would belong to the past, to the point of having to give way to other public policies, considered more effective and legitimate.
In the first place, Europe has taken the measure of the urgency of a real industrial policy: several initiatives have been launched recently, aiming to make up for our delay in critical industries – such as semiconductors – and to prepare for future technological breakthroughs, such as the quantum computer.
This industrial policy is not, however, at odds with the maintenance of competition. Let us first of all remember that competition policy is in its own way a form of industrial policy: by fighting against cartels and abuses of a dominant position, it makes it possible to preserve the competitiveness of our companies and promotes the emergence of new players, some of which will be the giants of tomorrow.
In addition, a policy of technological cooperation between competitors does not exclude the maintenance of downstream competition on the product market.
Finally, an investment policy in the sectors of the future is more likely to succeed if companies compete against each other: in a technological race, designating the winner in advance is rarely crowned with success. Industrial policy and competition policy are more complementary than substitutable.
Second, faced with unfair competition practices emanating from third countries, Europe has decided to strengthen its trade defense policy: in 2018 it has strengthened its anti-dumping arsenal and is preparing tomorrow to adopt a system to fight against subsidies. foreign public authorities that distort competition. This policy is welcome: it makes it possible to sanction behavior that is not really captured by competition law, such as non-predatory dumping.
However, competition policy must continue to play its role in regulating globalization: let us not forget that the antitrust rules also protect us against practices implemented by non-European players… on European soil. Google has learned this the hard way on several occasions, as has the international airbag cartel, which has negatively affected our automakers.
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Emmanuel Combe: “Europe must not disarm its competition policy”