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The perception of the relationship between companies and their competitors is most often positive: companies are the natural actors, and the development of one goes hand in hand with the development of the other. Competition law is then presented as the means of preserving this positive market dynamic.
This general perception is often reversed when the companies in question are SMEs. Competition is then often seen as destructive. SMEs would suffer rather than benefit from it. They should therefore be protected from it and competition law would be ideally suited to contribute to it. Should competition law distinguish between large and small enterprises? Should it apply equally to both? Protect SMEs from their larger rivals? Adapt to their lack of resources and low turnover?
The purpose of this chapter is to answer this set of questions based on the economic analysis. The first section aims to clarify the economic realities of the concept of SMEs. The aim is to shed light on the ambiguity of the many definitions proposed and to assess their weight in the national economy (I). The second section analyses how the basis of competition law and its application should and could be different for SMEs (II). We conclude by stressing that while competition law is not rightly aimed at protecting SMEs, the latter are particularly beneficiaries of its application.