Economy and antitrust


Steadily increasing market power over the past decades has led to higher prices, lower production and suppressing wages. Open entry for competitors by preserving competitive market structures ensures economic and social progress for the people. To stop harmful market consolidation, Pirates want to update and strongly enforce the antitrust rules.

European antitrust policy

The consumer welfare model used in antitrust ignores the externalization of costs associated with a merger. It is biased in favor of big business and the wealthy, and it suffers from serious internal inconsistencies. In examining only the relevant market and harm to consumers, antitrust enforcement agencies ignore external costs of a merger in the rest of the economy such as job loss.

Inclusive economy

Pirates promote policies that improve human well-being regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity. Concentration can worsen diversity across firms and hinder women from climbing the professional ladder. Under the consumer welfare standard, these harmful outcomes are deemed irrelevant. An antitrust standard must account for the impact of mergers on marginalized groups.

Antitrust reinforces democracy

Concentration of economic power can lead to replacement of the democratic order with autocracy. The role of antitrust is to prevent the aggregation of undue economic power, and of keeping open channels of political discourse and participation, such as news media or online platforms.

Economic democracy

Extractive corporate power reduces competitiveness. Pirates want stakeholders to participate in corporate governance.

Information monopolies

Information monopolies prevent, restrict or distort technical or economic progress. Exclusive use of so called ‘intellectual property rights’ limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment. Antitrust authorities shall ensure competition within the internal market.

The effective competition standard

Firms have market power if they, for example can: fix prices; price-discriminate; impose trading conditions; limit or control entry of competitors; or earn above-normal profits. Quality, privacy, and innovation become increasingly important in the 21st century economy.

A modern antitrust standard meets several essential objectives:

  1. to protect individuals, purchasers, consumers, and producers;
  2. to preserve opportunities for competitors;
  3. to promote individual autonomy and well-being; and
  4. to disperse and de-concentrate private power.

Pirates propose the effective competition standard:

“Agencies and courts shall use the preservation of competitive market structures that protect individuals, purchasers, consumers, and producers; preserve opportunities for competitors; promote individual autonomy and well-being; and disperse private power as the principal objective of the European antitrust laws.”

The European competition authority

Enforcing antitrust is not the job of politicians. To ensure the competition authority acts in the best interest of the European people, it has to be set up specifically as an independent institution. An independent institution would separate antitrust policy from direct political influence. This way, the competition authority is able to pursue antitrust policy that fosters economic growth and job creation in Europe. Pirates strive for an independent European competition authority with a mandate to render the economy competitive.


Thanks for the suggestions!

For sure, the current world is rife with giants and unhealthy concentration and adding special focus on protecting competition is miho a very good idea. But I am afraid we need to go a bit deeper.

Well, can we maybe start with asking what problem are we trying to solve? Are we advocating the upgrade of the current “competition protection” system? Do we want to fully disperse it and introduce independent body (which is quite a wide promise which we cant really move from the EP) - or should they work side by side? Do we have specific examples of European mergers that went too far?

a) do we have sources on concentration specifically hurting women? Because not even anti-trust diehards like Stoller, Philipon or even Pikettyy afaik mention this anywhereand it would be I am afraid really hard to source
b) we would have to have a really hard discussion in PPCZ on the question of stakeholder participation in governance and specify very precisely how it should be achieved and which entities would be afflicted by that. Also, I would not cite competition reduction as a reason for stakeholder participation, it should be a goal in itself, direct causation between board democratisation and competetivness is imho a very hard statement that we do not exactly need to make.
c) could you please try to specify some tresholds for the standards? Because if we are talking “fixing prices” and too high market power we really need to know at least if we are talking world level, European level or regional level (and all three could be viable options)


The elephant in the room is market power. In many concentrated sectors there isn’t much competition to protect. Markets won’t regulate themselfes, an institutional framework is needed. Rather than sanctioning the abuse of a dominant position, competition policy should focus on prevention by maintaining open entry for competitors. Mergers efficiencies must be proven by the one asserting them. Competition enforcement agencies must have enough resources, institutional support, and a legal mandate.

The problem

Overall, welfare is 9 percent lower in 2016 than in 1980, see Quantifying Market Power and Business Dynamism. The welfare cost of market power is estimated on the order of at least 7 percent of GDP. From: The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work. Direct link to the paper here: Quantifying Market Power And Business Dynamism In The Macroeconomy

a) Inclusive economy

Under the Consumer Welfare Standard, disparate impact on women and minorities is deemed irrelevant for antitrust policy. Source: How the Consumer Welfare Standard Undermines Labor Mobility for Women and Propagates Gender Inequality

b) Economic democracy

The original motivations of antitrust suggest an alternative remedy for market power: changes to corporate governance to include stakeholders who are subject to this power. See: Economic Democracy and Market Power. Also top managers are paid for market power, see Are Managers Paid for Market Power?.

c) Fix lax antitrust

The European Competition Law regime allows non-competitive conduct. That is because of the adoption of the “consumer welfare” standard in the: Guidelines on the application of Article 101(3) TFEU (formerly Article 81(3) TEC). The consumer welfare theory is narrow because it eliminates traditional antitrust goals a priori and the policy prescriptions of the consumer welfare theory are biased in favor of big business and the wealthy. See: The Consumer Welfare Standard and the Goals of Antitrust Policy. That can be solved by updating the standard to: The Effective Competition Standard: A New Standard for Antitrust.

Hello, as I can see, we have no chapter in the present/last program under the heading of Economy. We have one named Finances instead. (I wonder how that came to be?) But it seems to include general and specific economical reasonings of various kinds. Are you proposing a new chapter with the focus on antitrust? I think it could be included, in a concentrated form, in a chapter actually called Economy, which would include the proposals of the present Finances chapter, to the extent that we want to keep them.

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The current chapter ‘Finances’ mainly covers Taxes. While taxing a firms’ profits will raise revenue that can be redistributed, it will not reduce the power of firms to charge high prices. To resolve the root cause of market power is the objective of antitrust institutions. To cover the ‘Common Rules On Competition, Taxation And Approximation’, this chapter could be renamed to something like: ‘Economy and Finances’. A consolidated text about antitrust is worked upon in this pad: Economy.