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Policy Brief

Do European Union fines deter price-fixing?

The issue: Anti-cartel enforcement is the least controversial of competition policy themes. Agreements to restrict competition such as price fixing or market sharing have obvious negative effects on welfare.

By: Date: May 21, 2013 Topic: Energy & Climate

The issue: Anti-cartel enforcement is the least controversial of competition policy themes. Agreements to restrict competition such as price fixing or market sharing have obvious negative effects on welfare. Within the European Union, however, industry representatives have increasingly voiced concern that the European Commission applies a too-strict fining policy to enforce anti-cartel law, particularly since the introduction of new guidelines on fines in 2006. Fines are said to be too high, disproportionate and liable to introduce distortions into the market, ultimately leading to higher prices for consumers. It is often argued that more lenient approaches should be followed in crisis times.

Policy challenge: High fines for cartel activity could entail costs for society and might be difficult to implement. Nevertheless, there is no case for reducing current levels of EU anti-cartel fines. Fine levels already take the economic crisis into account, and the net present value of fines might prove to be too low to discourage collusion. We estimate that fines might even be not high enough to offset the additional profits yielded by collusion. Fines should be complemented with other measures to increase deterrence, in particular personal sanctions targeting company officers who are responsible for leading the company to commit infringements. In the short term, pressure on decision makers could be increased by reducing the expected duration of investigations.

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External Publication

A Safety Net for the Green Economy

How to protect workers hurt by the fight against climate change.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 20, 2021
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Podcast

Podcast

Are robots taking our jobs?

What will be the impact of automation on the economy? Bruegel's own Giuseppe Porcaro discusses with Aaron Benanav, Laura Nurski, and Alexis Moraitis.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 20, 2021
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Blog Post

Will European Union recovery spending be enough to fill digital investment gaps?

The recovery facility will boost digital transformation, but questions remain whether it will be sufficient to achieve Europe’s digital ambitions.

By: Zsolt Darvas, J. Scott Marcus and Alkiviadis Tzaras Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 20, 2021
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Blog Post

The European Union’s carbon border mechanism and the WTO

To avoid any backlash, the European Union should work with other World Trade Organisation members to define basic principles of carbon border adjustment mechanisms.

By: André Sapir Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: July 19, 2021
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Blog Post

Making sure green household investment pays off

Policies are needed to support green fuel switching by households; support should be phased out as the carbon price rises.

By: Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 19, 2021
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Podcast

Podcast

A fitting plan for the European Green Deal?

How does the world's first roadmap for meeting climate goals stack up?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 15, 2021
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Opinion

‘Fit-for-55’ package: Squaring the circle

The European Union finds itself at the centre of a three-dimensional puzzle. Burdens need to be shared between 450 million citizens, 25 million businesses and EU countries in a way that is acceptable to enough of them.

By: Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 15, 2021
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Policy Contribution

A new direction for the European Union’s half-hearted semiconductor strategy

The EU needs a more targeted strategy to increase its presence in this strategic and thriving sector, building on its existing strengths, while accommodating its relatively low domestic needs.

By: Niclas Poitiers and Pauline Weil Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 15, 2021
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Blog Post

Fit for 55 marks Europe’s climate moment of truth

With Fit for 55, Europe is the global first mover in turning a long-term net-zero goal into real-world policies, marking the entry of climate policy into the daily life of all citizens and businesses.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 14, 2021
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Upcoming Event

Sep
2
10:15

The role of the state in providing infrastructure for decarbonisation

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 2 - Who should be responsible for providing crucial infrastructure for decarbonisation and how should it be managed?

Speakers: Jean-Bernard Lévy, Diederik Samsom, Simone Tagliapietra, Laurence Tubiana and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Palais des Academies, Rue Ducale 1
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Upcoming Event

Sep
2
14:30

Brave new digital industrial policy

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 2 - In this session our speakers will dicuss innovation and digitalisation.

Speakers: Francesca Bria, Kerstin Jorna, Marietje Schaake and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Palais des Académies, Rue Ducale 1, Brussels
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Upcoming Event

Sep
3
10:15

Sustainable finance

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 3 - In this session on the final day of the Meetings, our panelists will discuss the future of finance and its sustainability.

Speakers: John Berrigan, Maria Demertzis, Alberto De Paoli and Pierre Heilbronn Topic: Energy & Climate, Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Palais des Académies, Rue Ducale 1, Brussels
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