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The EU's Antitrust Lessons for America

While the EU’s courts and legislative processes will moderate the European Commission’s hardline instincts about competition policy, the US risks overcompensating for past laxity. Big businesses wanting moderate and stable antitrust policy may therefore have to look to Brussels rather than Washington.

LONDON – US corporate giants often criticize the European Commission’s aggressive competition policy, claiming that it protects inefficient European firms. Meanwhile, they applaud America’s laissez-faire antitrust policies, which regard market dominance as a reward for success and have aided the development of today’s US megafirms, especially in the tech sector.

With US President Joe Biden’s administration seeking to boost competition in order to reduce what it views as excessive corporate consolidation, this may be about to change. But the risk is that, rather than tweaking an antitrust regime that has mostly served America well, Biden may go too far in reforming it. US big business may therefore find that, in the long run, the European Union’s competition policy ends up being more predictable and reasonable than America’s.

Consider how the EU and US authorities currently regulate anti-competitive conduct by dominant firms. The European Commission, already tough, is getting even stricter – but there are checks and balances to prevent it from going too far.