Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date

January 2012


In discussions of the regionalization of competition law, the political dimension often leads a shadowy existence. Regionalization tends to be presented with a hint of a halo around it. States are presented as acting for a shared policy objective intended to benefit all, and political issues often sit uncomfortably with that image. This is particularly true when regionalization involves ‘developing countries’. Here there is often a further level of ‘common good’ discourse. Regionalization is here portrayed not only as a communal experience and goal, but also as one designed to reduce poverty and aid economic development. Where regionalization involves competition law, an additional veil often lies across the discussions. Competition law is about economics, it is said, and it serves the economic gains of the participating countries. This tends to distance the enterprise from any political factors. Each of these forms of discussion emphasizes safe, sanitized language and imagery.

Yet few would actually argue that the political dimension is not central to the process of regionalization. A key issue, then, is how to view, analyse and discuss the political dimension that everyone knows exists, but that many find awkward or unpleasant to talk about. Finding a language for discussing the political dimension thus takes on a central role.