EU Competition Cases: Media Matters
The Role of Media in European Competition Cases
DG Competition is the executive arm of the European Commission responsible for overseeing mergers, cartels and State Aid within the EU, the world’s largest single trading bloc. This makes its Commissioner one of the few in Brussels who has real power across the Union and at Member State level. Its current incumbent, Margrethe Vestager, has clearly stated that decisions are not taken in a vacuum. While competition law defines the framework, in reality a decision will be influenced by a multitude of different factors. The media has an important role to play.
It’s not just the Commission that is influenced by what it reads, sees or hears. How a story is portrayed by a dedicated corps of Brussels based competition media can have a significant impact on how any investigation is determined by a number of key decision makers. It can also influence the analyst community, investors and your broader corporate reputation, both in your home markets and around the world. The media can be seen as this overarching force that helps to form public opinion. So how a company is portrayed in the media during a competition case does matter.
The Competition Media in Brussels
Year on year, the media interest in competition cases has grown – especially with a number of high-profile cases becoming front-page news around the world. Even the most routine cases are examined and covered by the specialised competition agencies (Mlex, PaRR) as well as by leading international business news agencies Bloomberg and Reuters. When it comes to the ‘big name’ cases, the international business news agencies will follow every step in the case. At key stages in the process, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and other leading European newspapers such as Le Monde, Handelsblatt or El Pais will be watching and waiting to splash a scoop on the case outcome or in anti-trust cases – the size of the fine against a company.