LAW & ECONOMICS : CARTELS - FINES - SAMPLE 64 CARTELS - MICROECONOMIC - RESTITUTION - ILLICIT GAIN - DISSUASIVE FINES - DETECTION PROBABILITY

Fining cartels: Over-enforcement by the EC Commission?

Based on a sample of 64 cartels convicted by the European Commission from 1975 to 2009, we estimate from easily computable microeconomic variables a range of restitution fines, which amount to the illicit gain, and a range of dissuasive fines, which take into account the probability of detection. We compare these two ranges to the fines actually inflicted to cartels in each case. Our results show that the fines imposed against cartels by the European Commission fall often below the illicit gain captured by the firms and remain very far from dissuasive levels. This article is inspired by an book of research PRISM-Sorbonne: " Fines against hard core cartels in Europe : the myth of over enforcement " (38 p., June, 2009). The tables are available in the PDF version of this article. The opinions expressed here are personal to their author and should not be considered as the one of their institution.

1. En matière de lutte contre les cartels, le montant annuel des amendes infligées par la Commission européenne a considérablement augmenté au cours des dernières années, pour atteindre plus de 10 milliards d'euros sur la seule période allant de 2004 à septembre 2009. Il est vrai que cet accroissement s'explique en partie par un effet volume : après 1996, date de l'introduction du premier programme de clémence, 6,25 cartels ont été condamnés en moyenne par an, contre 1,4 auparavant. Mais cet effet n'explique pas tout, dans la mesure où l'amende par cartel a également fortement progressé (figure 1). Figure 1 : Les amendes infligées par cartel (1965-2009) [1] 2. On pourrait certes invoquer un effet de taille, les cartels condamnés sur la période récente touchant un marché plus large ou ayant une durée

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Emmanuel Combe, Constance Monnier-Schlumberger, Fining cartels: Over-enforcement by the EC Commission?, December 2009, Concurrences N° 4-2009, Art. N° 28831, pp. 41-50

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