Welfare Standards in U.S. and E.U. Antitrust Enforcement

By Roger D. Blair & D. Daniel Sokol
April 1, 2013

The potential goals of antitrust are numerous. Goals matter to antitrust. We believe that it is total welfare rather than consumer welfare that should drive antitrust analysis. We use this Article as an opportunity to explore both a comparative analysis of welfare standards across E.U. and U.S. competition systems and the impact of welfare standards on global antitrust systemwide welfare.

In this Article, we analyze two types of situations in which there would be a different outcome based on the goal implemented. One scenario involves resale price maintenance (RPM). For RPM, we argue that even if there were a different welfare standard across jurisdictions as between Europe and the United States, in practice, it would have very little global impact. The second scenario involves merger control. We analyze a divergence in welfare standards between merger regimes where the use of efficiencies might play out differently across Europe and the United States depending on the welfare standard used. Under this second scenario, the welfare standard matters globally as to business outcomes in a way in which it does not under the first scenario. If one major merger regime blocks the merger, it effectively blocks the merger globally. Finally, we provide our concluding thoughts on the future and desirability of convergence around total welfare as the sole goal in the practice of competition economics globally.