European Competition Law and Economics: Cartels and Other Evils

Course code
E06
Course fee (excl. housing)
€550.00
Level
Advanced Bachelor
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This course deals with the effects of European Competition Law on the behavior of businesses in the European Union (EU). An effective common market within the EU requires a fair and undistorted competition. Hence the European Commission (EC) vigorously attacks cartels. A recent example is the ‘cooperation’ between 7 seven international banks – Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan, and MUFG by participating in a foreign exchange spot trading cartel. In this case the European Commission imposed a total fine of € 1.07 billion in 2019.

This course deals with the effects of European Competition Law on the behavior of businesses in EU countries. An effective common market within the EU requires fair and undistorted competition. Hence the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union “TFEU” includes strict rules to tackle unfair competition. As an extremely broad concept of the law, section 101 TFEU, for example, stipulates that “All agreements, decisions by associations of companies and concerted practices, which have as their object or effect, either actual or potential, the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition, are prohibited.”

Consequently, the European Commission's DG Competition vigorously attacks cartels within the European Union. According to its own view, cartels are highly detrimental for the following reason: “A cartel is a group of similar, independent companies which joint together to fix prices, to limit production or to share markets or customers between them. Instead of competing with each other, cartel members rely on each other’s agreed course of action, which reduces their incentives to provide new or better products and services at competitive prices. As a consequence, their clients (consumers or other businesses) end up paying more for less quality.”

A recent example of a cartel is the ‘cooperation’ between seven international banks Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan and MUFG, by participating in a foreign exchange spot trading cartel. In this case the European Commission imposed a total fine of € 1.07 billion in 2019. 

In a less recent case, the Dutch beer market was found to be dominated by a cartel as well, from 1996 until 1998. The European Court of Justice confirmed on 19 December 2012 that Heineken had to pay a fine of € 198 million euro and Bavaria a fine of € 21 million. 

However, the central theme in this course is the public enforcement of European competition law. The aim is to give students insights into how unfair competition occurs in practice, how this can be prevented and how to react if unfair competition is detected within a company. During the last day of the course, students will have to present a paper in which they will have to comment on (the effects of) a particular cartel.

Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)

Course director

Prof. dr. Wilco J. Oostwouder

Lecturers

prof. dr Wilco J. Oostwouder (professor of corporate finance law UU and attorney at law Loyens & Loeff NV), attorneys at law of Loyens & Loeff NV specialized in Competition Law, and economists working in the Dutch Competition practice (f.i. at the Dutch authority Consumer and Market Authority and/or consultancy firms specialized in the economic effects of (unfair) competition.

Target audience

Ambitious advanced bachelor and master students (law, economics) who are anxious to know more about (the public enforcement of) European Competition Law and Economics and compliance with anti-trust rules.

Course aim

To give advanced bachelor students (Law, Economics) an insight into the backgrounds of (the public enforcement of) European Competition Law and Economics and its effects on the behavior of businesses, and vice versa, and to make them familiar with the career opportunities after a Master in Law & Economics or Economics & Law.

Study load

Contact hours daily: 4-5 hours (lectures, group assignments)
Self-study daily: 4 hours (preparation and research)

Costs

Course fee:
€550.00
Included:
Course + course materials
Housing fee:
€200.00

This course is also included in the special track 'Highlights Law and Economics and Europe' which combines the two courses European Competition Law and Financial Law & Economics for an adjusted course fee.

Housing through: Utrecht Summer School.

More information

prof. dr. Wilco J. Oostwouder | E: w.j.oostwouder@uu.nl | T: +31 (0)6 229 38 31

Recommended combinations
Financial Law and Economics: The (Next) Financial Crisis and Europe

Registration

Application deadline: 15 June 2020