Competition Law in Europe: The Challenge of a Network Constitution

Imelda Maher and Oana Ştefan

in The Regulatory State

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593170
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595660 | DOI:
Competition Law in Europe: The Challenge of a Network Constitution

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In the late 1990s the European Commission set out on the most radical transformation of the enforcement of European competition law in forty years. The highly centralized enforcement regime where competition law was seen as a key tool in market integration was replaced with a decentralized, self-regulatory model with an emphasis on economic principles. The creation of a network of national competition authorities (NCAs) and the European Commission Directorate General for Competition (DGComp) was a key element in this reform. The European Competition Network (ECN) is the institutional form under which the efficient and smooth enforcement of European competition norms by all NCAs and the Commission is to be achieved, enforcement having been (re)delegated downwards to the national level as part of the modernization process. This chapter reflects on the constitutional implications of the modernization of European competition law with particular reference to the ECN, which as a form of network governance creates a number of constitutional challenges, notably relating to the questions of consistency and accountability. The chapter first addresses the constitutionalization of the EU before moving on to discuss the architecture of competition law enforcement in the EU. It then sets out how, primarily in functional terms, the ECN is seen as successful. The particular constitutional challenges posed by the operation of the network, notably consistency and accountability, are analysed. It then discusses the role the courts have played in endorsing and challenging the competition law enforcement governance structures before concluding.

Keywords: European competition law; European Competition Network; EU; constitutionalization; competition law enforcement

Chapter.  12612 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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