Milton Friedman and EU Competition Law. Did you know?
That the Chicago School has had a profound and lasting impact on competition law analysis is well-known. That Milton Friedman, the intellectual leader of the most legendary of Economics Departments, played a (minor) role in the creation of an EU competition law system, is probably ignored by many of our readers.
As they explain in their memoirs, Milton and Rose Friedman spent some months in Paris in 1950, working for the Marshall Plan agency. Milton’s main task during his time in France was to analyse the Schuman Plan. He expressed concern that the project would lead to the ‘substitution of a single super-monopoly for the present collection of monopolies’ and that the ‘fine words about “competition” and “single market” have been interpreted to mean centrally directed and controlled industries’.
This passage is useful to put things in perspective. Many contemporary commentators tend to see the ordoliberals and the Chicago School as two extremes in a continuum. Against the widespread view, Milton Friedman’s account suggests instead that he shared with the ordoliberals of the time a concern with central-planning and with the cartelisation of key industries. Both saw competition as necessary for the emergence of a genuinely free and democratic society. And the rest is after all just details 😉