Compliance and Regulation Law bilingual Dictionnary

Competition

by Marie-Anne Frison-Roche

Competition is the law of the market. It allows the emergence of the exact price, which is often referred to as "fair price". It means and requires that agents on the market are both mobile, that is to say free to exercise their will, and atomized, that is to say, not grouped together. This is true for those who offer a good or service, the offerers, as well as for those seeking to acquire them, the applicants: the bidders seek to attract the applicants so that they buy them the goods and services that they propose.  Bidders are in competition with each other.

In the competitive market, buyers are indulging in their natural infidelity: even if they have previously bought a product from an A supplier, they will be able to turn away from him in favor of a B supplier if the latter offers them a product more attractive in terms of quality or price. Price is the main signal and information provided by the suppliers on the market to excite this competitive mobility of the offerers. Thus, free competition accelerates market liquidity, the circulation of goods and services, raises the quality of products and services and lowers prices. It is therefore a moral and virtuous system, as Adam Smith wanted, a system which is the fruits of individual vices. That is why everything that will inject "viscosity" into the system will be countered by Competition Law as "non-virtuous": not only frontal coordination on prices but for example, exclusivity clauses, agreements by which companies delay their entry on the market or intellectual property rights which confer on the patentee a monopoly.

Admittedly, Competition Law can not be reduced to a presentation of such simplicity, since it admits economic organizations which deviate from this basic model, for example distribution networks or patent mechanisms on which, inter alia, is built the pharmaceutical sector. But the impact is probative: in the sphere of Competition Law, if one is in a pattern that is not part of the fundamental figure of the free confrontation of supply and demand, he has to demonstrate the legitimacy and efficiency of its organization, which is a heavy burden on the firm or the State concerned.

Thus, in the field of Regulation, if regulatory mechanis were to be regarded as an exception to competition, an exception admitted by the competition authorities, but which should be constantly demonstrated before them by its legitimacy and effectiveness in the light of the "competitive order", then public organizations and operators in regulated sectors would always face a heavy burden of proof. This is what the competition authorities consider.

But if we consider that regulated sectors have a completely different logic from competitive logic, both from an economic and a legal point of view, the Law of Regulation refers in particular to the notion of public service and having its own institutions, which are the regulatory authorities, then certain behaviors, in particular monopolies, are not illegitimate in themselves and do not have to justify themselves in relation to the competitive model, for they are not the exception ( Such as the public education or health service).

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