Bureaucrats or Ideologues? EU Merger Control as Market-centred Integration* - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Common Market Studies Year : 2021

Bureaucrats or Ideologues? EU Merger Control as Market-centred Integration*


Since 1989, no major European merger has been able to go through without EU approval. The introduction of a centralized merger control procedure was another increase in the powers of the Commission's Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP). While some see it playing a neo-mercantilist role in a positive European integration, others underline its neoliberal ideological roots. Through our analysis of all merger decisions made between 1990 and 2016 (6,161 cases), we instead find evidence for market-centred negative integration: DG COMP is particularly harsh towards coordinated market economies and targets sectors that have high levels of state intervention, thus thwarting the rise of 'European champions'. Our interviews with merger experts and the decision citation data further suggest that this market-centred logic of enforcement is not necessarily driven by ideology, but by the silent logic of bureaucratic autonomy. We thus contribute to the debate on the EU as a supranational force of economic liberalization.
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Dates and versions

hal-03101468 , version 1 (07-01-2021)
hal-03101468 , version 2 (23-07-2021)





Sebastian Billows, Sebastian Kohl, Fabien Tarissan. Bureaucrats or Ideologues? EU Merger Control as Market-centred Integration*. Journal of Common Market Studies, 2021, 59 (4), pp.762-781. ⟨10.1111/jcms.13130⟩. ⟨hal-03101468v2⟩
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