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Responses of European competition policy to the challenges of the global economic crisis

Czékus, Ábel (2012): Responses of European competition policy to the challenges of the global economic crisis. Published in: Crisis Aftermath: Economic policy changes in the EU and its Member States, Conference Proceedings, Szeged, University of Szeged , Vol. ISBN 9, (2012): pp. 324-336.


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European competition policy has been one of the common policies since the beginning of European integration. The European level economic policy coordination and the customs union have required a uniform framework for competition policy covering the whole Community.

Nowadays the economic integration of Europe is suffering from its biggest crisis ever, which also affects companies based and/or operating in Europe. This brings about new challenges for common competition policy as it has to assure, on one hand, a legal framework to maintain fair competition. The importance of cooperation between competition authorities, for example in the field of restrictive agreements, has been recognised by the European Commission. The Commission, on the other hand, has to deal with an increasing number of merger cases because, after the decline of the number of cases in 2008 and 2009, concentrations have started to intensify again. This is due to the recovery of companies in 2010 and the relaunch of lending activity. Also, competition policy has to stimulate markets as it is also a way to put the European economy on a growing path.

Much more emphasis should be put on state aid because it does not only spur economic growth but it could have negative effects as well. This type of excessive spending is problematic in the sense of competition policy and it could eventually even worsen the long term economic perspectives of Europe.

The crisis in Europe escalated three years ago. I summarise the legal development and guidelines relating to competition policy after 2008. I examine the block exemption schemes and the extended state aid activities. These are developments that may contribute to the recovery from the crisis. It is essentially important to shape competition policy so that it effectively guards companies’ adaptation process to the new economic circumstances, and stimulates their economic activity.

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