Wolf Sauter, Squaring EU Competition Law and Industrial Policy: The Case of Broadband

Wolf Sauter, Squaring EU Competition Law and Industrial Policy: The Case of Broadband (October 2013). TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2013-021. Available at SSRN


Industrial and competition policy are often seen as logical opposites: inherently conflicting. In my earlier research (1997) I have found that at EU level these two policies are in principle compatible if industrial policy is defined as promoting structural reform. This was illustrated by the telecommunications liberalization which was then ongoing. An update of this research based on the example of broadband roll-out shows that the finding of consistency remains the same or at least similar. However the impact of competition policy has broadened. It has moved from antitrust and mergers to include more active policies on state aid and sectoral competition policy. At the same time in the context of broadband these policies favour (i) more public intervention (aid) and (ii) perpetuate sectoral regulation where originally a rapid transition to general antitrust had been envisaged. This example suggests that to balance industrial policy and competition policy as a whole consistency and predictability – including between the different branches of competition policy – is essential.




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