2012 Conference Review – Final Session

(review by David Reader, CCP PhD Student)

As the delegates returned to their seats for the final session on ‘Private and Public Enforcement’, there were high hopes for a grand finale to two days of rigorous debate and commentary. Chairing duties were left in the capable hands of Hussein Kassim (CCP), who began by inviting Angela Wigger (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) to present her research on ‘Neoliberalism Consolidated: The Example of Private Enforcement in EU Competition Regulation’.

It became evident from her opening slides that Angela was sticking to her political science roots. An early reference to Karel Van Miert, as well as a self-professed “shameless plug” of her political economy textbook, indicated that Angela was adopting the tried-and-tested formula on which she has established herself as one of the foremost commentators in her area. The audience were encouraged to adapt their perceptions of social-historical context, as the presentation charted the progression of neoliberalism within EU competition regulation: from the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ (1950-1970) to the economic decline of the 1970s and, ultimately, the ‘rise of neoliberalism’ in the 1980s and 90s. Angela’s suggestion that the ‘modernisation’ of EU competition law has merely sought to consolidate neoliberal beliefs proved intriguing and controversial in equal measure. Her belief that law firms have been the main beneficiaries of modernisation was, however, greeted with approval by some of the legal practitioners in the audience.

Following a short comfort break, the delegates reassembled for what they hoped was more of the same from the next speaker. Maarten Pieter Schinkel (ACLE) returned to make his second appearance at the annual conference, having first presented here in 2009. It proved a welcome return, as Maarten captivated the audience with his unique brand of “storytelling”. The evidence he presented proved very compelling and, although we must be patient before his research is disclosed to the public, it is no secret that Maarten’s presentation was one of the highlights of the two days.

As we entered the final hour of proceedings, Bob Feinberg (American University) took to the podium and jested that it was he who ‘stood between [us] and the weekend’. The audience were, of course, more than happy to wait as Bob talked us through his paper on ‘State Antitrust Enforcement in the US and Implications for Business Entry and Relocation’. Relying on census data and information obtained from a comprehensive database of state-specific case filings, Bob’s research drew a number of preliminary conclusions on the effects that state-level antitrust enforcement appears to have on entry and relocation behaviour by US firms. Bob’s distinguished career in both enforcement and academia proved particularly advantageous as he offered multiple interpretations of his findings. Despite finishing with time to spare, or in Bob’s words: “coming in under budget”, there was certainly nothing low-budget about his presentation. Indeed, it proved a fitting end to an eventful day.

And so the conference drew to a close and it was for co-organiser Andreas Stephan to conduct the traditional curtain call. He expressed his sincere gratitude to the efforts of Suzy Adcock, Leanne Denmark and Denise Eden-Rogers who had worked tirelessly to bring this year’s conference to fruition. Further thanks were extended to the CCP’s PhD and Masters students, who assisted with the organisation of the New Researcher Conference and volunteered their services over the course of the week. Special thanks were reserved for CCP Director Morten Hviid for the faith he had shown in Andreas and his fellow co-organiser Sebastian Peyer. One final round of applause signalled the end of an enthralling few days which had left everyone with ‘food for thought’.

About CCP
The Centre for Competition Policy (CCP) conducts interdisciplinary research into competition policy and regulation.

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