This is the one of the views of Vincent Power, Partner and Director of A & L Goodbody Solicitors' EU & Competition Law Unit, whose book 'Competition Law and Practice' is being launched today, Tuesday 20th November, by An Tanaiste Mary Harney TD and Frank O'Riordan, Senior Partner at A & L Goodbody, in the Westin Hotel, Dublin.
The book describes and discusses competition law and practice of the EU and Ireland and address this issue and others which are key to Irish businesses operating in the European markets.
"Too often businesses see competition law as being a straitjacket, which constrains their business behaviour. In fact, they should see competition law as a competitive advantage, which they can use to challenge the behaviour of trade associations, the abuse of dominance by suppliers or even customers as well as the anti-competitive behaviour of cartels. Businesses can utilise competition law to correct the balance," says Power.
Power also believes that typically, in a recession there are greater risks of anti-competitive behaviour and activity.
"Businesses look for State aid, which often just props up failing businesses, prolongs the 'evil day' and perpetuates inefficient practices. There is some room for State aid but it has to be associated with radical once-off restructuring surgery and no on-going link between the State and the recipient of the State aid.
"Cartels are sometimes formed in recessions so as to prop up prices or cut back on supply. The consumer and the business customer lose out from such anti-competitive behaviour because inefficiencies remain in the market, prices rise and choice falls. There is a need for greater vigilance - as much from business and consumers as from any public authority - to ensure full compliance with competition law and that the benefits of competition will still flow," he says.
Competition Could Help Re-Stimulate Growth In The Irish Economy
"We now need competition even more than ever to re-boot the economy. Competition is not a fair weather' friend. There is no doubt about the value which has been contributed to the Irish economy in the past decade through competition cost savings for consumers and business customers. For example, the air transport and telecommunications sectors have made doing business cheaper and more efficient. There is a real...