On November 26, 2020, a Colloquium, organized by the Institut de Recherche Juridique de la Sorbonne (IRJS) of the University of Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne, took place at the Amphi Liard, Cour de la Sorbonne. The aim of the colloquium was to discuss the considerations of public interest in competition law.
While the Chicago School places "efficiency gains" at the heart of antitrust application, European competition rules requires that the economic interpretation of competition law should consider the well-being of citizens. The objective “well-being of citizens” is in line with the programmatic objectives of the EU Lisbon Strategy and is enshrined in the Treaty of the European Union. If the Chicago School would be applied in Europe, public interest objectives would have to be negated in the application of the competition rules. In other words, European competition policy would be decoupled from the interests of European citizens. However, in accordance with the European school of thought, the public interest objectives are included in the application of the competition rules.
In discussions, arguments are often put forward against the inclusion of public interest considerations in the application of EU competition law. However, these considerations are already included in the conception of competition law as such: the fight against cartels and abuses and the control of concentrations between undertakings. That means that competition law is not mechanically and blindly applicable. It is permissible to explicitly include the public interest objectives such as the well-being of people in the economic assessment.