Competition policy exists to preserve the well-being or optimal functioning of free markets. Its core assumption is that anti-competitive behavior must be prevented, discouraged, or sanctioned ex post. Sound competition is important for keeping prices of goods and services low, ensure a wide range of choice, high quality and a healthy level of innovation. There are four main pillars within the field of competition policy, i.e. State aid, antitrust, merger control and liberalization/privitasation of markets. Competition policy is a domain that is of relevance to all sectors (including public) in society, that touches upon a vaste amount of subnational, national and European policy domains, and that is thus significant for researchers from diverse disciplines. The last few years, many competition cases also touch upon broader public interest considerations such as environmental protection and privacy, triggering the debate on how these topics could/should be integrated within competition policy. The awarding of the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel to Jean Tirole in 2014 underlines the societal importance of a sound competition policy.
Within this context, BCCP is a center of excellence for interdisciplinary research on European competition policy. BCCP:
- brings together all VUB expertise in this area, more particularly from the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences and Solvay Business School, the Faculty of Law and the Institute for European Studies.
- fosters interdisciplinary research on competition policy and this at the theoretical, methodological and empirical level.
- focuses on high quality publications, on scientific (inter)national collaboration, but also on the organization of events open to academics, industry and policy makers as well as trainings.
The main research question guiding BCCP’s activities is:
“How can we advance national and European competition policies in a methodologically sound manner, looking particularly at legal soundness and consistency, the treatment of efficiencies and sector-specific considerations and political aspects?”.
Examples of subquestions that merit attention are:
- How to conduct ex ante and ex post assessments?
- What are the effects of competition policy on markets, but also on societies?
- Is the application of competition policy consistent across its main pillars and across the 28 Member States and when this is not the case, why so?
- How can we carry out meaningful comparative research over different geographical areas?
- What should be the place of other public interest considerations such as environmental protection, privacy and diversity/pluralism within competition policy?
- Which welfare standard is most approriate in a rapidly changing environment where several public interest considerations frequently surface?
- What is the influence of procedures and how can they be improved?
- What is the optimal combination level between public and private enforcement?
- How can we contribute to and support a competition policy in developing economies (e.g. Asian and African countries)?.