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Interview with Jean-François Bellis: "Commitment decisions: Tool of choice or poison for antitrust enforcement? "

Concurrences Review

Monday, June 15, 2015 from 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM (CEST)

Interview with Jean-François Bellis: "Commitment...

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New Frontiers of Antitrust 2015



Commitment decisions:

Tool of choice or poison for antitrust enforcement?


Interview with Jean-François Bellis

The New Frontiers of antitrust conference will be held on June 15, 2015 at Ministry of Economics, Paris. The redaction of Concurrences Journal has interviewed Jean-François Bellis who will participate in the panel discussion: "Commitment decisions: Tool of choice or poison for antitrust enforcement". Other panel speakers include: Bruno Lasserre – Autorité de la concurrence –, Jed Saul Rakoff – Judge, Southern District of New York –, Wouter Wils – European Commission.


Concurrences Journal: The first panel will focus on commitment decisions with the following question being put to the panellist members: tool of choice or poison for antitrust enforcement? Why this question? What is the underlying concern?

Jean-François Bellis: Two years ago, Frederic Jenny and I were co-teaching a course on Article 102 in the Brussels School of Competition organized by the Fédération des Entreprises de Belgique (FEB). Frédéric was struck to see how many recent Article 102 cases had been dealt with by commitment decisions. He devoted his speech at the 2014 Fordham Conference to that subject, expressing concern that the proliferation of commitment decisions might bring about an impoverishment of the antitrust debate. This is one of the concerns that underlies the panel. There are good reasons why undertakings may prefer commitments over classical infringement decisions such as the absence of fines and of findings of infringement. Does this trend create a risk of reducing the predictability of antitrust law? Is there also a danger of the commitment process being abused to coerce undertakings to accept remedies which could not validly be imposed in a classical infringement decision? These are the important questions which the panel will be called on to discuss.

Concurrences Journal: A large proportion of EU commitment decisions concern abuse of dominance situations. Are there specific reasons for this situation?

Jean-François Bellis: I think one of the reasons for the widespread use of commitment decisions in EU abuse of dominance cases in recent years is the battle currently raging within the Commission between the “effects-based” faction within DG Comp and the “form-based” faction firmly entrenched within the Legal Service. The extent of the divisiveness was brought to light by the public reactions to the 2014 General Court Intel judgment which was praised in a noted article by one Commission official while another one wrote an equally noted article explaining why the Intel judgment is “wrong”. In such a polarized environment, commitment decisions which impose remedies without any underlying formal finding of infringement, thus doing away with the need to choose between the two competing factions, may be seen as a convenient way out.    

Concurrences Journal: What do you think of the criticism one hears from time to time that commitment procedures eliminate judicial input in the shaping of competition law?

Jean-François Bellis: It is true that, as shown by the Alrosa case, commitment decisions leave virtually no room for judicial intervention in practice. Is something lost as a result? Not necessarily.  The time when the General Court, or rather the Court of First Instance as it was then known, played a significant role in shaping EU competition law by issuing bold judgments such as Adalat, Airtours or Tetra Laval/Sidel, is long gone. In recent years, the General Court has marginalized itself by systematically upholding Commission decisions on all major substantive issues. I think this is a significant factor in the success of EU commitment procedures: in view of the high risk that the appeal against a classical infringement decision with heavy fines will be unsuccessful, commitment decisions with no fines appear as a very attractive alternative indeed.

For the complete agenda of the conference and the list of the keynote speakers, visit:

Have questions about Interview with Jean-François Bellis: "Commitment decisions: Tool of choice or poison for antitrust enforcement? "? Contact Concurrences Review

When & Where

Ministry of Economics
139 rue de Bercy, Paris | M° Bercy
75012 Paris

Monday, June 15, 2015 from 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM (CEST)

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Concurrences Review

The Paris “New Frontiers of Antitrust” conference is a unique occasion to network with some of today’s most influential global leaders in competition law. This conference, held each year in Paris since 2009, now ranks first among the European antitrust independent events in terms of venue, press reports and audience. The 2019 Steering Committee, headed by Frédéric Jenny, includes Prof. Laurence Idot, Prof. Nicolas Petit and Nicolas Charbit.

All tariffs include breakfast, coffee, lunch and cocktail reception. Conference credited for the Paris Bar continuing legal education. Governmental agencies and academics registrations must be sent with valid proof. Languages: English - French (translation). Limited places available due to the conference venue. Payment must be received prior to the conference. There will be no refund after 29 April 2019. Cancellations must be received in writing; cancellations received in writing up to 2 weeks before the conference will receive a refund less 15 %. Substitute delegates are welcome at any time. Photos will be taken at the event; attendees agree for the organizer to use these photos, unless otherwise required in writing. This event is organised by Concurrences Review and is co-sponsored by legal, economic and media partners.

The list of attendees will be communicated to the speakers.

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