Lights and Shadows of the National De-centralized Competition Systems

Maria del Pilar Canedo Arrillaga

Procedural difficulties, independence of the decision bodies, finding of evidence of the most serious infringements, the need of a harmonized and uniform application of the competition rules and the economic burdens that imply decentralization could lead us to a conclusion against the existence of regional antitrust authorities. The different objectives of local, national and supranational authorities choosing their cases, the capillarity achieved with the lower ones, their functions and benefits in local economy, their role in achieving a change in competition culture, their impact on innovation of the market and their closer connection to consumers could lead us to a contradictory conclusion of regional authorities considered positive for the efficiency of the enforcement. There is one very particular and relevant argument in favor of the second conclusion. The capacity regional authorities have to control and challenge the role of regional or local administrations both in public procurement cases and dealing with regulatory powers of those administrations. This contribution tries to proof that only a decentralized enforcement of competition law can really achieve the aim of reducing the infringements caused both by companies and administrations and therefore reduce the cost of no competition in our societies. This conclusion requires nonetheless some requirements that need to be guaranteed when considering the implementation of a de-centralized system. Personal capacity of the members of the board, personal and institutional independence (with tricky elements such us budgetary concerns, access to independent legal advice, direct connection with the parliament and or the government, possibilities of selection and evaluation of the staff, powers to enforce and or challenge rules) , capacity building for the economic and legal staff and a clear will to create an efficient network of peer and different level authorities based on common trust and cooperation. Those elements will be analyzed in this contribution.

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