Keywords: mergers, competition policy, merger control, consumer welfare, efficiencies criterion, market structures
Challenging the rationale of merger control in the framework of contemporary competition policies
There are two fundamental perspectives on competition. The first relates competition to market structures. According to this approach, a market with N + 1 competitors is more desirable than a market with N competitors. The second approach defines competition in terms of behaviour, in terms of how companies use or abuse their position on the market. Such a dynamic perspective qualifies a market as competitive even if it has only one competitor. Merger control, a specific field in competition policy, is arguably the outcome of the first approach, itself the embodiment of specific political and historical objectives. In an age when the mainstream wisdom seems to be migrating towards the dynamic approach to competition, it may be time to reconsider the role played by merger control in securing competitive markets and, as a consequence, in reaching the fundamental goal of increasing consumers' welfare.