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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

Economics as a Crystal Ball: Explaining the Rise of Economic Expertise in EU Merger Control

Sebastian Billows


 
Since the 1970s, significant changes have affected competition policy across the world. Starting in the United States and then spreading across Europe, public authorities enforcing antitrust rules and merger control have increasingly ignored corporate concentration, refocusing their attention on "efficiency" and market entry. In the literature on political economy and the transnational diffusion of policy ideas, this move is understood to be the result of the rise of US-influenced economic expertise at the expense of the "formal," legal approach promoted by lawyers. While acknowledging the importance of how professions frame competition policy, this project investigates the micropolitics of competition policy enforcement. Drawing on the case of EU merger control, this project maps the semantic battles between the EU Commission and the large corporations that want their corporate acquisitions to be cleared. In these contentious procedures where both parties argue about future states of the markets, sophisticated economic instruments provide a convenient "crystal ball" capable of legitimizing claims about the desirability of a merger. Project duration: October 2017 to October 2019.
 

 
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