As well creating completely new products from smart phones and tablet computers to apps and social networking, digital technology has created new ways of marketing old products. It has also resulted in many new firms, some of which have rapidly become global giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook to name but a few.
Each of these developments raises a fascinating and unresolved competition issues, for example e-book marketing. the challenge this represents for competition policy is recognised by the fact that the CMA has chosen e-commerce as its first self-chosen market inquiry.
The CCP conference will present new research that helps to answer a wide range of relevant questions:
• As Internet platforms account for an increasing fraction of retail sales, providing intermediation between producers and consumers; what are the roles, market structures and competitive effects of these platforms?
• What posible abusive practices, such as imposing most favoured nation clauses, can platforms engage in?
• What are the implications for evidence gathering in competition cases?
• The Internet and social media can enhance the consumers ability to share information and to become better informed. When does this raise competition concerns?
• Social websites may affect consumer search behaviour and efficiency. What does that imply about firm behaviour and the assessment of behavioural and structural remedies in competition cases?
• Websites collecting reviews of goods and services potentially enables better matches between those and a consumers preference, but poor matching and negative reviews could prove costly for firms. What effect does this have on firm and user behaviour?
More details will be circulated soon. Please join our mailing list to recieve the latest news on the 2015 Annual Conference.
12-13 June 2014, University of East Anglia, Norwich
Sometimes markets appear not to be working well for the consumer and can seem a bit ‘too hot' for regulators to handle while nobody is quite sure why or what should be done.
Often it is not clear if illegal activity is taking place and these 'problem markets' attract widespread attention amongst the public, politicians, academics and the media.
This provides a stream of work for competition agencies, despite there being no obvious contravention of competition or antitrust law. The work may sometimes be either inconclusive or ineffective and can cause concern amongst both politicians and academics.
With over 120 delegates in attendance from the worlds of academia and practice, the conference examined the key theme from a variety of multi-disciplinary perspectives. Factors identified as potentially creating problem markets included economic factors, both the demand-side and supply-side, as well as wider political and social factors. The potential to which intervention can help matters was also discussed, with reflection on the legal framework and past case experience in the UK, EU and US, as well as on number of specific ‘problem' sectors such as financial services, health, energy and air transport.
Speakers included leading international academics from University of California, University of Liège and Norwegian School of Economics, and representatives from both the public, private and third sector such as the Competition and Markets Authority, Ofcom, Institute for Fiscal Studies, RBB Economics and Which?
DAY 1, Thursday 12 June 2014
Prof Amelia Fletcher, CCP & Norwich Business School, UEA: 'Problem Markets - The 'Gap' Between Core Competition and Consumer Law'
Ashleye Gunn, Which?: 'How Which? Chooses What to Campaign On'
Catherine Waddams, CCP & Norwich Business School, UEA: 'Consumer Response in Energy'
Fabienne Ilzkovitz & Adriaan Dierx, DG COMP, European Commission: 'Problem Markets: The EU experience'
Prof William E. Kovacic, George Washington University & Competition and Markets Authority (CMA): 'Preeminent Problem Market: The US Petroleum Products Sector'
Prof Hussein Kassim, CCP & School of Political, Social and International Studies, UEA & Hillary Jennings, CCP & Independent Consultant: 'Market Studies - An International Success Story'
Prof Ariel Ezrachi, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford: 'The Curious Case of Competition and Quality'
Prof Nicolas Petit, University of Liège, Belgium: 'Problem Practices" in EU Competition Law'
Prof Joseph Farrell, University of California, Berkeley, USA : 'Problem Markets: The Demand-Side'
Geoffrey Myers & Katie Curry, Ofcom: 'Calls to Non-Geographic Numbers - Changing the Regulatory Regime in a Problem Market'
Andrea Coscelli, Competition and Markets Authority (CMA): 'The UK Experience of Market Investigations'
DAY 2, Friday 13 June 2014
Prof Frode Steen, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH): 'Disadvantageous semicollusion: Large Customer Competition'
Prof Severin Borenstein, University of California, Berkeley, USA: 'Are Airlines a Problem Market? A US Perspective'
Prof Michael Waterson, University of Warwick: 'Electricity - A Problem Market'
Prof Rosa M. Abrantes-Metz, Global Economics Group & NYU Stern School of Business: 'Problem Markets: Financial Benchmarks & Credit Ratings'
Prof Rachel Griffith, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) & University of Manchester: 'Government Intervention in Food Markets'
Prof Carol Propper, Unviersity of Bristol & Imperial College Business School - 'Competition in Health Care: What Can We Learn from the UK?'
"This house believes that interventions which go beyond standard antitrust and consumer law have a valuable role to play in tackling problem markets"
Proposing: Mike Walker, Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) & Anneli Howard, Monckton Chambers
Opposing: Adrian Majumdar, RBB Economics & Niamh Dunne, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University
Final Judgement: Prof Bruce Lyons, CCP & School of Economic UEA
6-7 June 2013, University of East Anglia, Norwich
Always at the heart of competition policy, institutions have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. New agencies have been created in transition states, while established authorities in Europe have undergone change and reform. Curiously, the growing consensus on the principles and practise of competition policy has not been accompanied by a convergence on organisational form or legal frameworks.
With an audience approaching 100 delegates, the conference brought together a multidisciplinary group of renowned economists, historians, legal scholars and political scientists from both academic and practitioner backgrounds. The conference assessed the importance of institutional design, analysed the impact of institutions and investigated processes of organisational and legal change. The event was held at the UEA Drama Studio, our ever-popular venue which has, for many years, provided an ideal backdrop for rigorous academic debate.
Several of the speakers at this year's conference were interviewed about the main points from their presentations. You can see the video of these interviews here.
DAY 1 Thursday 6th June
Prof Bill Kovacic, Global Competition Professor of Law and Policy & Director of Competition Law Center, George Washington University: 'Institutions and Competition Policy: Structure, Conduct, Performance'
Laurent Warlouzet, Lecturer in History, Université d’Artois and Marie Curie Fellow, LSE: 'The institutional framework of EEC competition policy: European debates and national models (1956-1991)’
Stephen Martin, Professor of Economics, Purdue University: ‘Shaping Antitrust Institutions’
Tomaso Duso, Professor of Empirical Industrial Economics, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics: “The evaluation of Competition Policy Enforcement and Institutions”
Bruce Lyons, Professor Economics, CCP and School of Economics, UEA: “What Determines the Reputation of Competition Agencies?”
Stephen Davies, Professor Economics, CCP and School of Economics, UEA: 'Deterrence and Non-detection: Evaluating Competition Policy when faced with Inevitable Selection Bias’
Imelda Maher, Professor in European Law, University College Dublin: “Transparency and Networks: Accounting for Governance in the Competition Sphere”
Hussein Kassim, Professor of Politics, School of Political, Social and International Studies, UEA and co-presenting Kathryn Wright, Lecturer in York Law School: 'Influence and power in international networks: ECN’
Day 2: Friday 7th June 2013
David Gerber, Distinguished Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law: ‘Competition Law and Institutional Change: European Trajectories’
Francisco Marcos, Professor of Law, IE Law School, Madrid: ‘Institutional experimentation? The integration of competition law and regulation enforcement in Spain’
Maarten Pieter Schinkel, Professor of Economics, Co-director of the Amsterdam Centre for Law and Economics (ACLE): 'The new Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM)?'
Thibaud Vergé, Chief Economist, Autorité de la Concurrence, France: ‘French institutional reform and the quality of competition decisions’
Alex Chisholm, Chief Executive Designate, UK Competition and Markets Authority: ‘The new Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)’
Peter Freeman, Chairman, Competition Appeal Tribunal, UK: ‘Competition decision making and judicial control – the role of the specialist tribunal’
Jacques Steenburgen, Faculty of Law, KU Leuven and Director General of the Belgian Competition Authority: ‘Design of institutions for competition policy: the relative merits of inquisitorial and prosecutorial models’
Hassan Qaqaya, Head, Competition law and Consumer Policies Branch, UNCTAD, Switzerland: ‘Problems and effectiveness of competition policy in emerging economies’
Sean Ennis, Senior Economist in the Competition Division of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): ‘Emerging Economies: Different Economic Problems, Same Competition Law?’
14-15 June 2012, University of East Anglia, Norwich
The Office of Fair Trading has uncovered high-profile cases including sales of replica football kits, airline price-fixing, and bid-rigging in the construction industry – resulting in multi-million pound fines for companies involved. This two-day event focussed on how consumers, who pay over the odds as a result of such practices, can successfully claim compensation.
The conference saw an international line up of economic, law, and political experts talking about their research and experience. Speakers included John Holmes from Which? magazine and Iain Mansfield, assistant director of competition policy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Dr Andreas Stephan, from the Centre for Competition Policy at UEA, said: "There are a number of obstacles for consumers claiming compensation. In particular, the financial loss is typically shared between a large number of consumers. But while individual losses might be small, the cumulative loss to the economy is potentially enormous.
"The problem in the UK is that we don't allow for collective legal actions on an ‘opt-out' basis.
"When the consumer group Which? attempted to sue for compensation over replica football kits it was unsuccessful because of the cost of identifying affected victims and getting them to sign up.
"In the US however, lawyers are able to sue on behalf of a group of consumers without each consumer needing to specifically ‘opt in' to the legal action.
"The UK government is currently consulting on such a system, which would make it much easier to sue companies for anti-competitive practices."
Iain Mansfield (BIS) led a panel discussion on the government's consultation at the event.
Lee McGowan, Queen's University, Belfast: "Americanisation of Cartel Provisions in the UK and EU Regimes? Exploring Criminalisation and Leniency"
Angela Wigger, Radboud University, The Netherlands: "Neoliberalism Consolidated: The Example of Private Enforcement in EU Competition Regulation"
Robert Feinberg, American University, USA: "State Antitrust Enforcement in the U.S. and Implications for Business Entry and Relocation"
Cento Veljanovski, Case Associates: "Deterrence Recidivism and European Cartel Fines"
David Ulph, University of St Andrews, Scotland: "The Welfare Effects of Legal Uncertainty and its Implications for Enforcement Procedures"
Christine Parker, Monash University, Australia: "The Futility of Getting Tough on Cartels?"
Maarten Pieter Schinkel, Amsterdam Business School: "State-aided Price Coordination in Dutch Mortgage Banking"
Angus MacCulloch & Bruce Wardhaugh, Lancaster University: "The Baby and the Bathwater: The Relationship between Private Enforcement, Criminal Penalties, and Leniency Policy"
Niamh Dunne, University of Cambridge: "Discounting Fines to Account for Regulation: A Critical Assessment of Commission Practice"
Bruce Wardhaugh, University of Newcastle: "Cartel Control, Public and Private Sanctions: Lessons Europe Can Learn from the American Experience"
Peter Ormosi, CCP & Norwich Business School: "Towards the unbiased assessment of law enforcement: deterrence, detection and other niceties"
Morten Hviid, CCP: "Regulation vs. Self-help: A natural experiment"
Francisco Marco, Center for European Studies/IE Law School: "Diminishing Enforcement: Negative Effects for Deterrence of Mistaken Settlements and Misguided Competition Promotion and Advocacy"
16-17 June 2012, University of East Anglia, Norwich
The centre's hosted a 7th successful annual conference, which discussed Consumers in Competition Policy, with almost 100 delegates attending throughout the two days.
The conference, held on campus in the UEA Drama Studio, addressed questions surrounding consumer behaviour in markets, including the factors that determine how active consumers are, switching behaviour, whether the markets deliver what consumers actually want and the policy implications.
17-18 June 2010, University of East Anglia, Norwich
CCPs sixth annual conference was another great success. Over 70 delegates from around the world met to discuss recent findings on Vertical Restraints.
The two-day conference, held in the UEA Drama Studio, looked at Vertical Restraints broadly in particular at how the improvement in the economic understanding, both in terms of theory and empirics, has or can be translated into enforcement reality.
Speakers included academics from the US and Europe, as well as members of the CCP faculty at the heart of this active area of scholarly research.
Day 1, Thursday 17 June 2010
Daniel Crane, University of Michigan, USA: "Toward a Unified Theory of Exclusionary Vertical Restraints"
Greg Shaffer, University of Rochester, USA & CCP: "Naked Exclusion with Minimum-Share Requirements"
Abraham Wickelgren, University of Texas at Austin) "Robust Exclusion through Loyalty Discounts"
Francine Lafontaine, University of Michigan, USA: "Organizational Form and Performance: Evidence from the Hotel Industry"
John Asker, NYU, USA: "Relational Contracting in Vertical Markets: Evidence from the Peruvian Anchovy Fishery"
Day 3, Friday 18 June 2010
Frank Verboven, KU Leven, Belgium: "Vertical Control of a Distribution Network: Evidence from Magazines"
Michael Harker, CCP & Norwich Law School: "Vertical Restraints in the Broadcasting Industry: Content is King".
Patrick Rey, University of Toulouse, France: "Vertical Integration, Innovation and Foreclosure.
Cedric Argenton, University of Tilburg, The Netherlands: "Exclusivity Contracts, Insurance and Financial Market Foreclosure"
Andrew Gavil, Howard University, USA: "Has Interbrand Competition Become the Sole, Not Merely the Primary, Concern of Antitrust Law in the United States?"
Alison Jones, Kings College, London: "Vertical Restraints: The Journey Towards an Effects Based Approach"
Andreas Stephan, CCP & Norwich Law School: "Finding a Legal Approach to Hardcore Vertical Restraints"
18-19 June 2009, University of East Anglia, Norwich
CCPs fifth annual conference was another roaring success, with around 85 delegates from all over the world attending the two-day event at UEAs Drama Studio.
Some presentations focused solely on the cartel problem by asking how are successful cartels organised and how do they overcome the problem of monitoring what fellow conspirators do? What are the harms from cartel activity and how do we measure this? And, what are the roles and effects of compliance programmes? Some looked at tacit collusion and the problems caused by various features such as cost asymmetries, transparency, hub and spoke agreements and contract bidding, whilst others were directed on the interface between the two, in particular on the role of firm numbers and on asymmetries in size.
Several papers used experimental methods to explore the role of excess capacity, of leniency programmes, of bargaining within the cartel, and of communication and renegotiation among cartel members.
Day 1, Thursday 18 June 2009
Maarten Pieter Schinkel, University of Amsterdam: "Cartel Damages: On The Commissions Call for Simplified Rules on Estimating the Loss" (full paper)
Maggie Levenstein, University of Michigan: "Determinants of Cartel Duration and the Role of Cartel Organization" (full paper)
Joe Harrington, Johns Hopkins University: "Collusion with Monitoring Based on Self-Reported Sales"
David Gilo, Tel Aviv University: "Partial Cross Ownership and Tacit Collusion under Cost Asymmetries"
Christian Schultz, University of Copenhagen: "Transparency on Both Sides of the Market and Tacit Collusion"
Okeoghene Odudu, Cambridge University: "The Hub and Spoke Agreement: ABC Collusion"
Rob Porter, Northwestern University: "Competition or Collusion in Recent Offshore Oil and Gas Bidding?"
Day 2, Friday 19 June 2009
Hans Theo Normann, Goethe University: "Excess Capacity and Collusion in Bertrand-Edgeworth Markets: Experimental Evidence"
Jeroen Hinloopen, University of Amsterdam: "Going Once, Going Twice, Reported! Cartel Activity and the Effectiveness of Leniency Programs in Experimental Auctions"
Kai-Uwe Kühn, University of Michigan: "Communication, Renegotiation, and the Scope for Collusion"
Robert Sugden, CCP & School of Economics, UEA: "Salience and Tacit Collusion"
Andreas Stephan, CCP & Norwich Law School, UEA: "Why Antitrust Compliance Programmes May Be Ineffective at Preventing Cartels"
Stephen Davies. CCP & School of Economics, UEA: "Tacit versus Overt Collusion: Firm Size Asymmetries and Numbers"
Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke, MP for Norwich South, also addressed the audience: he was a a member of the cabinet when the UK Enterprise Act 2004 criminalised cartels (i.e. ringleaders could from then on be sent to prison), and he spoke about the political context for that decision.
7-8 July 2008, University of East Anglia, Norwich
The 2008 Annual Conference explored the boundaries of competition policy, and the appropriate balance between regulation and competition, both in general terms and using examples from particular sectors. The object of the conference was to use insights from leading economists, legal scholars and political scientists to understand where the application of competition policy is constrained or may need to be tempered. Similarly it sought to identify how other objectives may be affected by the application of competition policy.
Much of the Centre's work is devoted to analysing condition in which Competition Policy can flourish and improve welfare. This conference extended that perspective by identifying limits to competition policy, both intrinsically because of internal ambiguities, and in interaction with other social or economic objectives.
To view the slides that are available, click through to the required speaker in the Conference Programme.
PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE FROM THESE SLIDES WITHOUT THE AUTHORS' PERMISSIONS.
14-15 June 2007, University of East Anglia, Norwich
The ESRC Centre for Competition Policy's 2007 Annual Conference boasted some prestigious speakers, who presented a truly first-rate programme for a largely, but not exclusively, law-based audience. With excellent discussion sessions following each presentation, delegates were able to get stuck into issues surrounding the presentations. The presence of a number of speakers from the US ensured further delegates were able to share ideas in a comparative way, which generated further discussion outside of the studio.
Day 1, Thursday 14 June 2007
Chaired by Professor Barry Rodger from the University of Strathclyde, the Conference opened with Professor Morten Hviid's overview. Wayne State University's Stephen Calkins followed, presenting "Equilibrating Tendencies in Competition Law: Implications for European Reforms". Professor Calkins discussed how the existence of robust private enforcement remedies has had an important constraining influence on substantive U.S. antitrust law: on issue after issue, U.S. law has been made more precise and narrow because of fear of private litigation abuses. He contrasted this situation with that of Europe, which has enjoyed the luxury of developing a competition law jurisprudence largely free from worries about private enforcement.
Chaired by Ali Nikpay from the Office of Fair Trading, CCP's Michael Harker presented first on "Cross-Border Mergers in the EU: Commission versus Member States", (paper here) reviewing cases where the Commission has taken action against member states, where the latter have either acted contrary to the exclusivity principle under the EC merger control regime, or have maintained in place ex ante measures with the purpose of seeking to control or deter cross-border investment in key strategic industries. Dr Harker highlighted how such cases pose serious problems for the stability of the EC merger regime.
Jonathan Galloway from the Newcastle Law School gave a presentation on "EU Merger Control: Does the Re-emergence of Protectionism Signal the Death of the "One-Stop-Shop"?", (paper here) in which he outlined how the increasing visibility of national industrial policies across the EU, which has been described as "economic protectionism", is posing a direct threat to the efficacy of the ECMR. The paper considered some recent cases, and pleaded for greater legal and commercial certainty in this murky jurisdictional area.
The last two speakers of the day, Commissioner William Kovacic and Professor Andrew Gavil, from the Federal Trade Commission and Howard University respectively, presented their entertaining and engaging paper, "Centrifugal and Centripetal Forces in Antitrust: the Role of Appellate Review". This paper observed how antitrust enforcement authority has generated institutional stresses that cause enforcement to swing repeatedly between being decentralised and centralised, and asked whether privatisation and decentralisation of competition law enforcement authority in Europe will over time lead to conflicts of interpretation and approach.
Day 2, Friday 15 June 2007
Chaired by Imelda Maher from University College Dublin, the mornings sessions began with CCP PhD student Firat Cengiz, who presented "Management of Networks between Competition Authorities of Different Layers in the US and the EC: Different Polities, Different Designs". This paper compared the management of networks between the competition authorities in the US and the EU and questioned whether transatlantic policy learning is possible.
Scott Hemphill, Associate Professor of Law at Columbia University, then presented "Empirical Analysis and Workable Antitrust Policy: Finding the Right Rule for Drug Patent Settlements", (paper here) in which he considers the institutional strengths and weaknesses of the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice against a backdrop of ongoing disagreement over settlement of patent litigation between brand-name drug makers and their generic rivals.
Rounding off the morning, Stephen Wilks presented "The Modernisation of European Competition Policy: Networks, Convergence and Corporate Governance". (paper here). Professor Wilks, from the University of Exeter's Department of Politics, outlined the major changes in the enforcement of the European Competition Rules and explored the apparently effective operation of the European Competition Network. He then argued that we are seeing a transition in policy enforcement with major initiatives: a turn to economics, and Americanisation, seen in the encouragement of private actions.
The final sessions were chaired by John Preston of the Department of International Development. Kati Cseres, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Amsterdam, discussed "The Interface between EC Competition Law and the Competition Laws of the New Member States: Implementation or Innovation?". The analysis of this paper focused on competition law implementation in terms of whether it has been justified from the point of view of these countries' social and economic circumstances, and also evaluated the enforcement of the new competition laws, presenting a critical assessment of the harmonisation process of competition law.
Philip Marsden, Director of the Competition Law Forum and Senior Research Fellow of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, presented the final paper of the conference, "Trade, Competition and Multilateral Rule-Making: a Warping of the International Legal Order?". He discussed the interesting institutional issues for trade law, competition law and public international law that were raised by the controversial findings in the Mexico-Telecommunications case ("Telmex"), in which the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body interpreted GATS as already containing a ban on cartels and even state-authorised cartels.
Feedback from this year's conference was very positive. The UEA Drama Studio once again provided a perfect setting for the sessions, and again, bursaries were provided for international PhD students which proved a popular move, enabling many new and useful contacts to be made between visiting students and CCP members. The high standard of presentations also meant that in an interdisciplinary sense, beneficial and stimulating contacts were established and built upon between all levels of academics, whether from a law, economics, or political science background.
6-7 July 2006, University of East Anglia, Norwich
It wasn't simply the setting of the UEA Drama Studio that caused the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy's Annual Conference to be concluded with a round of applause worthy of a Shakespearean play. Over a hundred delegates departed having been entertained and engaged, and with minds full of cutting-edge research disclosed to them by the selected speakers - leading academics who have advised on competition cases that have been investigated by European courts and authorities.
This year's conference, entitled 'Cases in European Competition Policy: The Economic Analysis', was held on 6 and 7 July and successfully demonstrated the CCP's dedication to inter-disciplinary research. Over a period of a day and a half, the speakers examined the way in which economics is being used more and more in competition investigations throughout Europe. The slots set aside for discussion proved valuable as they allowed for free dialogue and frequent, involved debates. Since delegates came from widely varied backgrounds - ranging from practitioners, economists and lawyers to leading academics and PhD students - these slots also enabled the subject matter to become more approachable through conversation.
The conference kicked off with a talk by Steve Davies from CCP, who bravely stood in for an unavoidably absent Marc Ivaldi (Université de Toulouse). Steve's cramming beforehand paid off; a sometimes very technical presentation on merger simulation turned out to be well-received as an opening talk. Margaret Slade, from the University of Warwick, followed on from this with an assessment of the simulation of unilateral effects in appraising mergers. Kai-Uwe Kuhn, from the University of Michigan, then presented on collective dominance; he detailed excessive emphasis on price transparency, amongst other things, when capacity constraints are often of overriding importance.
After lunch, Bruce Lyons of the CCP examined the extent to which it is necessary for sports governing bodies to restrain behaviour in order to maintain the integrity and quality of sport. Jean-Charles Rochet, from the Université de Toulouse, clarified the degree to which interchange fees and non-discrimination rules are necessary to achieve efficiency in a multi-sided market. In the afternoon Mike Waterson, from the University of Warwick, held an entertaining economic analysis of the litigation between tenants and brewers and concluded that sometimes it may be more beneficial to lose cases than to win them.
That evening, delegates were driven to Norwich City Football Club at Carrow Road, where they enjoyed a delicious meal at Delia's Restaurant.
An uncommonly early start, and a return to the Drama Studio, saw Peter Møllgaard of the Copenhagen Business School confirm that there was "something...rotten in the state of Denmark", as he mused on the calculation of damages caused by a Danish pre-insulated pipe cartel. John Van Reenen, from the ESRC Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), followed by giving a clear analysis of the key issues surrounding Microsoft and their apparent perpetual investigation by competition authorities.
Mark Armstrong, from the ESRC Centre for Economic Learning (ELSE), showed how unregulated termination charges by mobile phone companies would distort the market in the absence of regulation. Paul Dobson, from Loughborough University, was the last of the speakers; he looked at some of the recent issues facing UK supermarkets, such as accusations of monopoly status, and examined the different effects of buyer and seller power.
The conference had a great atmosphere and ran very smoothly: it was punctuated with coffee breaks which provided good opportunities for networking, and its audience gave the CCP strong encouragement in its work. The provision of bursaries enabled ten PhD students from all over the UK to attend, and thus the Centre ensured that the next generation of competition economists could meet and be stimulated by the current leaders in the field. The Centre looks forward to doing it all again next year, when the papers will have a comparative US-EU theme.
A book on these cases in European competition policy will be published next year, consisting of chapters written by the speakers at this conference. It will be published by Cambridge University Press.
28-29 June 2005, University of East Anglia, Norwich
Issues surrounding the delegation of authority to non-majoritarian institutions such as regulatory agencies, competition authorities and independent central banks were discussed and debated at a two-day conference organised by the Centre for Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia on 28 and 29 June 2005.
The conference heard a series of distinguished speakers explore the question of credibility in relation to different types of non-majoritarian institution in a variety of institutional settings and contrasting geographical contexts. Giandomenico Majone distinguished between agents to whom partial decision-making authority is delegated, and trustees who are granted full decision-making power. In the first case, he argued, the challenge is to discover how best to minimise agency costs; in the second, where the relationship is fiduciary, the question is how best to ensure accountability.
The second speaker, Fabrizio Gilardi was concerned with the conditions that give rise to independence and argued that the literature on veto players offers valuable insights. His discussion explored the differences between regulatory agencies and central banks and sought to identify the sources of these differences. Roger Noll, Stanford, brought the first day to a close, with a detailed examination of what makes credibility possible. Drawing on the experience of African states in telecommunications, he considered the challenge faced by regulatory agencies attempting to develop credibility in political systems where credibility is in short supply and where even the finest institutional design may not be sufficient to deliver independent decision making.
The second day was opened by William E. Kovacic. Challenging the conventional wisdom and periodisation concerning the performance of anti-trust regulators in the USA, he identified the strategies that are necessary for a competition authority to establish, retain and increase its credibility. Imelda Maher noted the challenge posed for the rule of law by the exercise of discretionary power. In her presentation, she considered the role of law as a factor contributing to the credibility of competition authorities and its relationship to effectiveness. She also touched on the existence of international networks of competition authorities as a source of credibility.
Erik Jones addressed the issue of credibility in relation to the European Central Bank. Asserting that credibility is best seen as an argument rather than an attribute, he looked at how successive Presidents have understood the term and how they have sought to establish personal and institutional credibility.The final presentation was made by CCPs Lindsay Stirton and Michael Harker. Addressing the supervisory jurisdiction of the courts over the exercise of executive powers by regulatory authorities, they examined how far the dominant theoretical framework, which emerged in the US, can be applied in the UKs very different constitutional context.