A special message from Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, delivered to the participants of the Stigler Center’s conference on concentration in America.
Margrethe Vestager is the European Commissioner for Competition, a role she has held since 2014. Previously, she served as Denmark’s Minister for Economic Affairs and the Interior (2011-2014) and as a member of the Danish parliament, the Folketing (2001-2014). Under her leadership, the European Commission has been very active on the antitrust front in the past three years, most notably filing three antitrust charges against Google.
Thank you all very much for inviting me to share a few thoughts with you today. I am only sorry that I can’t be with you in person, because the questions that you’re discussing this week are things that we all have on our minds.
It was almost exactly 60 years ago that the treaty which created the European Union was signed. The rules of antitrust have been part of that treaty since the very first day, because our founders wanted to create a Europe that worked not just for big companies, but for everyone, and they found inspiration here in the United States. So even though the question you’re discussing is concentration in America, we in Europe have a great interest in the answer.
Over here, there are signs that some of the biggest businesses have a growing share of the market. Not in every market, not in every country, but in a significant part of our biggest economies, concentration seems to have grown since the financial crisis. The important question, of course, is why that has been happening and what effects it’s been having.
I hope your reflections in Chicago will help us understand what that means for Europeans, not only as consumers, but as citizens of a democracy as well. Although antitrust rules can never be the answer to every problem, I hope that together we can make sure that we’re doing all that we can for an economy that works fairly—for everyone.
I look forward to hearing about the results of this conference, and I want to thank you very much for making me a part of it.