Exploitative pricing in the time of coronavirus - the response of EU competition law and the prospect of price regulation

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Abstract

This article explores Article 102 (a) TFEU, the provision of the EU competition law that the National Competition Authorities and the European Commission can enforce against excessive pricing, in case the excessive prices are not the outcome of a collusive agreement. It discusses the practical and conceptual difficulties that excessive pricing cases involve, especially under the current urgent circumstances that Coronavirus has caused, and it assesses the remedies that the National Competition Authorities and the European Commission can impose in order to deal with price gouging. The article argues that the issuance of “commitment decisions” by the European Commission is preferable to the imposition of fines to firms, as it could reset prices to a non-excessive level, rather than merely alleviating the harmful effects of excessive pricing. In this context, the article also examines if the EU Member States should rely on price regulations in order to cap the wholesale and retail prices of some products in high demand due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of European Competition Law and Practice
Early online date15 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 15 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • excessive pricing
  • collective dominance
  • Article 102 TFEU
  • price regulation
  • commitment decisions
  • transitory market power

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