Since February 2010 Chief Economist of the Competition Authority 2005-2010 Researcher, CREST Industrial Economics Laboratory, INSEE 2008-2009 Senior Consultant/Academic Associate, CRA Charles River Associates 2006-2010 Associate Lecturer, ENSAE, École Polytechnique, University of Lausanne 2002-2005 Teacher-researcher, University of Southampton 2000-2002 Teacher-researcher, University of Bristol Interview You are the new Chief Economist of the Competition Authority since 1 February 2010. What was your background before taking up this new position? My background was essentially academic. At the end of my PhD at the University of Toulouse, I moved to England where I worked as a lecturer at the University of Bristol (2000-2002), then at the University of Southampton (2002-2005).
INTERVIEW - ADLC - CONTROL - MERGERS - ECONOMIC ANALYSIS - "MANAGEMENT CATEGORY" - OPERATORS - LARGE SCALE RETAILING - SUPPLIERS
Thibaud Vergé (French Competition Authority): An academic at the economic service of the French Competition Authority
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1 The CCLA has a strong interest in mass distribution. Recently, it has recently carried out a self-investigation to investigate the practice of "category management" between food retail operators and some of their suppliers. In the past, other competition authorities have also taken an interest in this practice: the FTC in the United States and the CC in the United Kingdom. To what extent can economic analysis play a role in identifying the effect of this practice on competition? And to what extent will your team be involved in this investigation?
You are the new Chief Economist of the Competition Authority as of 1 February 2010. What was your background before taking up this new position?
3.Could you describe the role of the economic department within the CCLA? What are the main activities of this department?
4.In general, economic analysis is playing an increasing role within the competition authorities in Europe and at the European Commission. With regard to the role of economic analysis within the ADLC, what are your development priorities for the next few years?
You are succeeding Philippe Choné who has recruited the team of economists for which you are in charge. How big is this team today? In terms of recruitment, what are your plans for the short and medium term?
You have been a keen observer of developments in competition policy in France in recent years. In your opinion, what have been the main achievements in this area?
What do you see as the CCLA’s main challenges for the next few years?
How do you see the relationship with the economists who work on behalf of companies? What practical advice would you give to these economists to ensure that their studies are properly valued?
The CCRA has published its new merger control guidelines. Economic analysis is at the heart of the substantive review. What aspects of these guidelines do you nevertheless consider could be subject to possible improvements?
Your academic work focuses on vertical relationships, and in particular on distribution agreements. As an expert, how do you view the fact that resale prices are still qualified as hardcore restrictions in the draft revision of the EU Regulation on vertical restraints?
11 In recent years, the ADLC and its predecessor, the Competition Council, have been very active in the field of vertical restraints. While today the ADLC allows the organiser of a selective distribution network to reserve sales over the Internet to members of its network, it does not tolerate that the organiser can limit the commercial freedom of its distributors. In particular, the ADLC has taken a very clear position, taking the view that any clause seeking to prohibit Internet sales as a matter of principle is a hardcore restriction. What is your opinion on this issue?
Interview conducted by Benoît DurandRBB Economics, London.
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