The need for a common competition policy in the EU
- Buoyancy of competition in the large European market
- Negative reactions to intensified competition in the EU
Before the opening up of borders to intra-Community trade and competition, prices in some sectors in most countries were artificially maintained at a level that allowed marginal undertakings to survive [see section 5.1]. The consumer bore the cost of protecting non-profitable businesses. In other sectors, unprofitable businesses were supported by aids of all kinds, and it was therefore the taxpayer that kept them alive. Hence, both consumers and taxpayers had a great interest in seeing the unprofitable undertakings disappear from the market thanks to the fair play of competition. This common interest of the citizens of the Member States is a major driving force of the multinational integration process [see section 1.1.2].
National rules alone cannot ensure competition in a common market. They must be completed by European rules to cover the cases, which affect trade between the Member States and where, therefore, there is Union competence [see section 3.2]. In contrast to national competition policies, the common competition policy has a market integration objective. It must ensure the unity of the common market by preventing undertakings from dividing it up amongst themselves by means of protective agreements. It must obviate the monopolisation of certain markets by preventing major companies from abusing their dominant position to impose their conditions or to buy out their competitors. Lastly, it must prevent governments from distorting the rules of the game by means of aids to private sector undertakings or discrimination in favour of public undertakings [see section 15.5.4].