Competition policy from a European perspective: A conversation with EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager

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Event Summary

On Monday at AEI, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager discussed competition policy from a European perspective. She argued that market competition is fundamental to a fair society and that EU enforcement actions are aimed at increasing competition, to consumers’ benefit. She stated that European competition authorities have stopped cartels and helped keep prices low.

Commissioner Vestager said that more than simply keeping prices down, competition authorities help ensure that markets remain functional and that abuses of market power do not occur, and they play a role when public health, the environment, or basic human rights could be at risk. Fierce competition pushes businesses to keep innovating and improving. She also discussed her views on proposed mergers and EU competition cases involving internet and chemical companies.

In a follow-up discussion, AEI’s Jeffrey Eisenach and Commissioner Vestager discussed differences between how the US and the EU handle issues of competition. They agreed on the importance of distinguishing between conduct that harms consumers and conduct that harms unsuccessful competitors, and they discussed high-profile EU cases involving companies such as Intel and Google. Commissioner Vestager emphasized that because technology is causing extraordinary change in markets, competition authorities must stick to their mandates to allow the market to continue producing amazing innovations.

–Matt Au

Event Description

There is broad global agreement on basic principles of competition policy: Firms with market power should not engage in conduct that mainly harms competition; mergers should not lead to monopoly; government subsidies should not favor some competitors over others. But important debates remain. How much weight should be given to keeping prices low versus creating incentives for investment and innovation? Should antitrust seek to protect competitors or competition?

On September 18, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager will visit AEI to discuss the EU perspective on these and other important issues in competition policy. A Q&A session with Commissioner Vestager will follow.

Join the conversation on social media by following @AEI and @AEIecon on Twitter and Facebook.

 


Agenda

1:15 PM
Registration

1:30 PM
Introduction:
Jeffrey Eisenach, AEI

1:35 PM
Remarks:
Margrethe Vestager, European Commission

1:55 PM
Discussion:
Jeffrey Eisenach, AEI
Margrethe Vestager, European Commission

2:15 PM
Q&A

2:30 PM
Adjournment


Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Matt Au at [email protected], 202.862.5918.


Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829


Speaker Biographies

Jeffrey Eisenach is a visiting scholar at AEI, where he focuses on telecommunications, internet regulation, and competition and policy issues in the information technology sector. He is also a managing director at NERA Economic Consulting and an adjunct professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, where he teaches a course on regulated industries. Dr. Eisenach has served in a variety of senior positions at the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and at Virginia Tech. He is the coauthor of “An American Strategy for Cyberspace: Advancing Freedom, Security, and Prosperity” (AEI, 2016) and has been published in Forbes, The Hill, The New York Times, and RealClearMarkets, among others. His broadcast appearances include National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” Marketplace, and Fox Business. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in economics from Claremont McKenna College.

Margrethe Vestager is the European Union commissioner for competition. She previously served as minister for economic affairs and the interior (2011–14) and minister for education (1998–2001) of Denmark and as president of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (2012). She was political leader of the Danish Social Liberal Party (2007–14) and has worked for the Danish Ministry of Finance (1993–95). Ms. Vestager holds an M.Sc. in economics from the University of Copenhagen.

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