Nils Wahl presented the three different trends that he identified in the antitrust litigation before the EU Court of Justice (« ECJ »). The first trend is a structural or systemic one : with the structural changes of the EU, the ECJ has systematically changed from mostly adjudicating cases itself to mostly providing interpretations of cases for lower courts. During its original founding days, after World War II, the EU was focused on trade, and it was trying to substitute war with trade. To ensure that companies don’t adopt the similar war tactics that were taken away from the states, the EU needed competition rules. So, from that point of view, antitrust or competition law was clearly fundamental for the EU at that time. Mr. Wahl noted that perhaps antitrust law has lost in relative influence and he gave three reasons why.
The first reason is that 30 years ago, due to enormous workload, the ECJ started having a Court of First Instance and sending all competition cases to it, which implied that competition cases were of inferior importance to other cases. The second reason is the introduction of Regulation 1/ 2003, which made the Commission sell the competition regulation to the Member States as a decentralization package, and some national competition authorities subsequently started making more settlement and commitments. The third reason is that when the internal market was completed in the beginning of the 1990s, the ECJ got occupied with matters of a constitutional character, as well as with everything else that was not antitrust.