Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for November 12th, 2010

What’s wrong with French Politicians?

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You liked the Alstom saga?

You loved President Sarkozy’s assault against article 3(1) g) EC?

Now you will surely adore the latest anti-Brussels protests voiced by the French government. Yesterday, several French Ministers lambasted the Commission’s decision in the air freight cargo case as “disproportionate.  Air France was fined €380 millions.

50 years after the entry into force of the EU Treaty, the declarations of those politicians – who seem to have just discovered the existence of EU anti-cartel provisions – are pathetic.

Beyond the ridiculous political gesticulations, a number of other things strike me as odd. After all, the victims of the cartel (air freight cargo customers) include probably a large number of French companies. Rather than siding here with Air France, the Government could have congratulated the Commission for protecting the interests of French customers. Yet again, French politicians decided to play Brussels v. Paris.

But there’s even worse. Buckle up and seat tight: the European affairs minister argued that the decision was discriminatory. Believe it or not, the alleged discrimination lies in the fact that some companies got off the hook in exchange for cooperation with the Commission. Obviously, our chap needs a crash course on leniency. Happy to offer my services (there is obviously no discrimination, as long as all companies can in principle equally receive immunity in exchange for cooperation). For more, see the post hereafter by Jean Quatremer (in French).

In the same vein: François Lévêque has sent us last week a paper about the new French electricity act. According to the author, this Act is (i) detrimental to competition; (ii) entails heavy handed State regulation; and (iii) is prone to regulatory capture and rent seeking behaviour. Scary. See link hereafter.


Written by Nicolas Petit

12 November 2010 at 7:35 pm