Volume 30 (2007) / Issue 4
The European Commission has made clear in a number of recent publications that undertakings that collude to fix prices or share markets should expect fines based on affected commerce, as well as private antitrust damage claims. Research on discovered cartels characterises a modern international cartel in terms of illegal gains, duration of the infringement and success on appeal. This article offers a back-of-the-envelope calculation into the net effective (expected) liability of a representative modern international cartel in Europe. To that end, the history of European cartel enforcement is surveyed in summary statistics. The exercise leads to the conclusion that the European Commission’s recent commitments to punishing cartels are likely to remain insufficient to deter collusion, unless European enforcement also produces a high (perceived) probability of discovery across the board. This calls for active cartel detection.
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