Considerations for a “top-to-bottom review” of the ICN: Legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency

Is the International Competition Network (ICN), a network of competition authorities (NCAs) from around the world and non-governmental actors – often large multi-nationals and the firms that support them – efficient and effective? Many scholars and practitioners think so. They also see little need to discuss the ICN’s legitimacy, because NCAs do not have to join it, ICN work products are agreed by consensus, and states are not forced to implement ICN work products. Despite these features, this paper argues that these questions are worth asking. We show that some actors – notably NCAs from advanced economies – may have significantly more influence than others in the ICN, and that the outputs that end up being recommended do not necessarily benefit developing countries. These are under increasing pressure to implement what the ICN recommends, even when contrary to their interests. We show how this is possible, making legitimacy an important issue too.

I. Introduction 1. Let’s start with a puzzle. US and EU competition officials expressed their support for a new competition network in September 2000. [1] Why would NCAs want to spend their own time and resources establishing an international network when they were already discussing international competition policy and enforcement in both the OECD and UNCTAD? Shortly afterwards, in February 2001, the International Bar Association called a meeting of over forty of the world’s senior competition officials and practitioners that supported the idea of “establishing a new organisation directed exclusively at international antitrust enforcement.” [2] From an early stage, it was clear that major businesses and law firms were prepared to offer money and analytical resources to support this

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Mariana Tavares, Mattia Guidi, Christopher Townley, Considerations for a “top-to-bottom review” of the ICN: Legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency, September 2022, Concurrences N° 3-2022, Art. N° 107347, www.concurrences.com

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