Economics and Competition Policy, Emmanuel COMBE

Emmanuel Combe

This section selects books on themes related to competition laws and economics. This compilation does not attempt to be exhaustive but rather a survey of themes important in the area. The survey usually covers publication over the last three months after publication of the latest issue of Concurrences. Publishers, authors and editors are welcome to send books to for review in this section.

Here is a book that presents itself as a simple reissue, whereas it offers much more.

Let us appreciate the great qualities of this book, published in French (an English version is in preparation and will be published in 2021).

The book has an educational purpose and easily fulfils this function. The clarity of its developments will allow it to reach beyond students.

Practitioners of competition law could also benefit from it.

At a time when pedants and prigs mask the emptiness of their speeches with hermetic jargon, it is pleasant to read works that simply explain a dense and complex topic. To reinforce or complete his explanations, the author enriches his speech with many useful, efficient and easy to consult tables, figures and appendices (the book contains a table of documents).

However, on closer inspection, the book is not devoid of scientific input. The author presents, on many subjects, theses from various opposing economic schools, then brings elements of reflections which allow the reader to form his own opinion. The mathematical formalization feared by jurists is obviously present, but with sobriety. The measure and pragmatism of the author’s positions do not prevent him from demonstrating them with rigour and conviction. Numerous bibliographical references punctuate his main points (the work includes a bibliography and an index of authors) which allow the readers to expand their economic knowledge.

Describing, explaining and demonstrating while remaining clear and accessible is the hallmark of great work.

Mr Emmanuel Combe, professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and vice president of the French Competition Authority, uses an empirical and original method. He confronts the theories and the main economic models with the reality of business life as revealed by case law. The author thus avoids two pitfalls: locking himself into the world of ideas by disconnecting from reality and describing cases without learning from them.

This method allows him to illustrate economic truths and to modify them by testing them against economic realities. This back and forth between the abstract and the concrete is undoubtedly the fruit of the author’s career-long experiences. The academic corrects his dogmas by confronting them with reality. The man engaged in the life of the city seeks the truth that transcends the particular cases submitted to him. The jurist confronted with law enforcement issues, qualifications or judicial syllogism is used to this approach reconciling deduction and induction in the same discourse. He will happily discover a new manifestation of it.

The risk of methodological bias in this way of presenting the economy lies mainly in the choice of examples. The author could not be exhaustive within the framework of a handbook; he had to give illustrations of various situations. His choice of examples is the result of transactions between old and recent decisions; between jurisprudence deciding classic questions and jurisprudence settling new questions, between cases that support the theories and those that lead to their completion, relativizing them or correcting them. This recounting of examples and their fitting to models is thus the fruit of great knowledge, which is the seal of the most valuable works.

In substance, this book essentially sets out the fundamental principles of the economic analysis of competition as well as the objectives and instruments of competition policy. The book focuses on anti-competitive practices and mergers and does not deal with the control of state aid. The issues covered are numerous: market power, the fight against cartels, vertical restraints, abuse of dominant position, merger control, and competition policy and its challenges.

A lawyer will find the economic elements that will give him or her a better understanding of competition law such as the Cournot duopoly and its generalization, the SCP model and its critic, cartels and game theory, distribution networks and the economics of transaction costs, the AEC test and abuses of dominant position, and the HHI index and the analysis of efficiency gains.

Competition policy is presented either in chapters dedicated to it (e.g., developments and instruments of competition policy, the challenges of competition policy) or by introducing it within economic issues (e.g., detection and sanctions of cartels, vertical restraints and competition policy, antitrust policy on R&D agreements, institutional choices on abuse of dominance issues, merger control procedures).

But the author does not engage in an artificial juxtaposition of knowledge. Economics and politics are closely associated in the analysis on the current and what could be an optimized regulation of markets. In the preface to the book, Mr Guy Canivet believes that the “common thread” of the book is to create a “logical link between economics, politics and law.”


  • University Paris Dauphine


Georges Decoq, Economics and Competition Policy, Emmanuel COMBE, May 2020, Concurrences N° 2-2020, Art. N° 94331,

Publisher Dalloz

Date 29 January 2020

Number of pages 548

Visites 324

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