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Democracy and Competition Law: Exploring Substantive and Procedural Links in a Time of Populism

2:00pm - 3:30pm / Monday 11th March 2024 / Venue: Ground Floor - Event Space School of Law & Social Justice
Type: Seminar / Category: Research
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Speaker: Maciej Bernatt
(In collaboration with the Economic Governance Unit)

If one considers the weaknesses of democracies as one of the biggest challenges for today’s democratic world, one of the key questions is whether and how competition law can help in safeguarding democratic legal order. In other words, the question is about pro-democratic role of competition law. This question is both about the substance of law and the institutional-procedural settings of its enforcement. Therefore, I argue in this paper, first, that the substantive and the procedural dimensions of competition law-democracy link can be distinguished and, second, that competition can play a pro-democratic role if rule of law is safeguarded. As far as the substantive dimension of competition law-democracy link is concerned, I will explain that it is related to the competition law’s role to provide a check on the use of market power by private firms on markets where economic and political power is intermingled. In addition, I will show that the substantive dimension is about competition law's role to safeguard that private firms, in particular digital platforms and media companies, give consumers an access to diverse sources of information. Finally, I will argue that the substantial dimension is about competition law’s role to promote socio-economic and environmental values which can be seen today as an inherent element of democratic order.