Competition Policy: Economics in Applying European Competition Law

Course Description: 

The course gives an overview of the economic concepts, theoretical approaches and quantitative methods used in the main areas of European competition law: restrictive agreements (§101 of the EU Treaty), abuse of dominance (§102 of the EU Treaty) and merger control. First we explore the basic concepts of effective competition, market power and relevant markets that are central to each antitrust case, and discuss how to approach these topics from a practical point of view. Then we go through the different theories of harm behind the potentially anti-competitive practices, and discuss how it might be possible to evaluate whether they indeed have harmful effects on competition and consumers.

The aim of the course is to demonstrate how the "economic approach" can contribute to the application of competition law, but also to acknowledge its limitations. The course focuses on competition policy applications in European cases, but it can also be useful to theory-oriented economists interested in real markets or for students who want see a legal field where microeconomic principles learnt are regularly applied.

Learning Outcomes: 

Experience in this field can only be gained through readings and discussion, so we will build on these grounds. Students can expect to get familiar with

  • how to use economic thinking to support competition law (or other legal) applications,
  • how to use empirical evidence to back up economic thinking in a way that is as robust as possible, but also comprehensible to lawyers and policy makers;
  • how to read policy documents and find the economically relevant parts;
  • how to summarize legal reasoning for economists and economic reasoning for lawyers or policy / decision makers;
  • how to present a case both from the plaintiff's and the defendant's point of view;
  • how to find the necessary compromises economic reasoning has to take in this environment.

Course requirements

     40% based on a written exam at the end of term. It will be an "open notes exam": you can bring your handwritten notes on paper, but not any other printed, photocopied or electronic materials. You can check the 2011 and 2012 exams uploaded at CEU e-learning site.

•     20% based on an individual term paper (10-12 pages) on a selected topic. See guidelines and topic suggestions at e-learning site. Deadline of submission: end of exam period (exact date to be specified later).

•     2*20% based on two short seminar presentations. See guidelines and details on each case at e-learning site.

•     Bonus 5% based on active class participation (you can still have 100% without this part).



Pre-requisites (if applicable): 1st year core courses on Microeconomics and Empirical Methods as taught at the Economic Policy Master level are sufficient. The course builds on microeconomic thinking, but does not uses formal models. No legal background is needed at all, all the necessary legal bases will be shortly introduced.

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