The departure of Commissioner Mario Monti from his post as the EC Commissioner for competition policy provides a good opportunity to reflect upon the achievements and perceived failures of the European Commission in the field of antitrust law over the past five years. This paper attempts to do so on the basis of six core principles of sound competition policy. Under the first principle, it is undisputable that the Commission under Commissioner Monti’s leadership has been at the forefront of the international efforts undertaken in the fight against cartels. Second, despite some weaknesses in areas such as conglomerate mergers or in its approach to the Microsoft case, the Commission’s focus now appears to be in the protection of competition, not competitors. Third, after a string of annulments of Commission merger decisions by the EC judiciary, the Commission has made substantial progress toward assuring that its decisions are based on sound economics and hard evidence (including consideration of efficiencies). Fourth, recent Commission policy confirms that the Commission is ready to limit intervention to those cases that really cause harm to the competition process. Fifth, despite some concerns arising from the reform of the merger review process, the Commission is working hard to ensure that competition laws do not become bureaucratic roadblocks to efficient transactions. Sixth, Commissioner Monti has been instrumental in promoting international initiatives designed to promote a better understanding of competition policy.


Antitrust and Trade Regulation

Date of this Version

April 2005