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Beware of nullifying the competition

Beware of nullifying the competition. It is the corrective of a market-jungle. Only he leads him back to the market-garden. A sign of identity of the European economy.

And all over the Union. The 27 rediscovered, fighting Brexit, that their internal market is their great mortar. And they certified it in the gigantic operation of the Next Generation funds, by jointly financing the post-pandemic recovery.

Some asymmetric bottoms. They help the less strong more, guaranteeing a harmonious internal market without an artificial premium to the natural hegemons, from the outset.

Well, that veneration for the internal market sometimes forgets its inherent rules of competition: antimonopolies, anti-price cartels, anti-abuse of a dominant position.

And exhibits, as now, disturbing loopholes. Like now. Paris and Berlin openly dislike the courageous Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager. Like her, they had it to several of her predecessors, especially the energetic Karel van Miert, for his rigorous defense of the rules.

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These great industrial powers reproach them for giving priority to the legal purity of equal access to the market over the interest of increasing size as the basis for an aggressive industrial policy.

Perhaps they harbor some valuable argument, such as reconsidering which market to classify as relevant and whether the EU has not become too small for this purpose.

But from there they make a mortal leap into the fallacy: that of regulatory rigor preventing their industries from acquiring size and economies of scale in the global agora. That was not the problem of the Finnish Nokia, nor that of the Swedish Ericsson, when they were most successful. And besides, Brussels usually approves mergers. Of course, under strong conditions (divestitures) so that the mergers do not sink their mini-competitors.

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Since in 2019 he vetoed that of the French Alstom with the German Siemens because it would have given rise to a monopoly de facto in the market for railway signals and high-speed equipment, the Paris/Berlin oblique attack switched to the girdled bayonet.

Since the pandemic, the rigid ban on public (“State”) aid has been temporarily weakened (rightly) to favor the flotation of the most damaged companies (and families): they already count 674,000 million euros. What Berlin took advantage of to launch a pharaonic aid project of 300,000 million, a clear distortion of equal access to the market.

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Now the bet is up, given the necessary rearmament against the protectionist edges of the Plan against inflation in the US (subsidies of 369,000 million for the green transformation of the economy, for factories, products and components produced on its soil), contrary to the WTO. We will have to fight them. But not with his own mistake, replicate that disastrous self-absorption. As some claim.

THE COUNTRY of the morning

Wake up with the analysis of the day by Berna Gonzalez Harbor


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