Opportunism by Competition Authorities in Ireland, Portugal and Greece in the Wake of Economic Crisis

Please cite the paper as:
Dr Mary Catherine Lucey, (2017), Opportunism by Competition Authorities in Ireland, Portugal and Greece in the Wake of Economic Crisis, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 1 2017, Public Law and Economics, 1st June to 30th June, 2017


Greece, Ireland and Portugal experienced an economic crisis which resulted in bailout programmes negotiated by each Member State with the Troika. This paper offers some observations on how the Programmes sought to reform some aspects of the domestic competition law regime other than those which fell directly within the roots of the crisis (e.g. fiscal policy and the regulation and supervision of financial sector) but were in line with the general reform aspirations of the domestic competition authorities. After describing the programmes in general, this paper examines selected provisions which sought to reform the enforcement of EU (and domestic) competition law by aligning national provisions more closely with the EU model (for example civil fines and settlement mechanism). Next, it highlights how the MoUs sought to enhance the resources and independence of the authorities. Finally, it considers the attention paid to the liberal professions as an example of MoU conditions which were not really linked with the causes of the economic crisis. The title of this paper refers to the opportunism of the competition authorities in three Member States following an economic crisis. Here, however, the term is not intended to connote any moral judgment but to convey how when they found themselves regrettably holding lemons grasped the opportunity to make lemonade.

Recent comments



  • Maria Fernanda C Madi says:

    Dear Dr Mary C. Lucey,
    First of all, the paper was very well written and it covered an important discussion on the agenda of competition authorities during economic crises, which fits perfectly to the theme of the Conference. The introduction gave a general background of the topic and clearly defined your objective and I appreciate that.
    Here are some general comments, and I hope it helps you:
    1. It could be interesting to add some literature on what would be the let’s say ‘ideal policies’ for competition authorities in times of financial crises (to directly tackle regulation issues, or competition on financial sector). Knowing that literature, you can better confirm that the reforms of Ireland, Portugal and Greece are indeed not directly related to the roots of the crises.
    2. I missed a more extensive description about the programmes and MoUs themselves, as you said in the Introduction that you would describe them, and you briefly mentioned in one paragraph (section 2). That would help the readers following better the presented cases.
    Apart from that, it was a great paper.

    • Mary Catherine Lucey says:

      Dear Maria
      I thank you for your thoughtful and insighful comments.
      Yes, indeed some treatment of the general themes around what authorities ‘should’ do in times of crises would enhance the paper and give it a stronger anchor with in the academic literatures.
      I agree too with the advice to present more detail about about MoUs- of course, these are not familiar instruments to many readers so a longer description would be helpful
      thanks again for taking the time to read and comment
      Mary Catherine

  • Vicente Bagnoli says:

    Dear Mary,
    Congratulation for your paper! It is an opportunity to understand how works those policies among Member States and EU, what is somehow new for those people not used to the functionality of EU, Member States and national competition policies in accordance to the EU policy. The paper also brings interesting subjects as MoUs.
    Best regards,
    Vicente Bagnoli

  • Joé Rieff says:

    Dear Mary Catherine,

    The paper you present here is well researched and it is very insightful. However I was wondering to which broader discussion it adds? Or does it simply aims opening a new (legal) discussion? I thought embedding this paper a bit more into existing literature may be helpful to convey the additional insights it provides. Furthermore, the paper is mostly as positive work. I am not sure whether the goal is to draw normative conclusions, but given that this a Law and Economics conference, I want to point this out. Maybe the paper could be extended by a few arguments which show whether this opportunism resulted in efficient regulations or not. Based on such a discussion, broader conclusions might be drawn on the effects of international agreements on national legislation and how to avoid adverse effects??

    Best wishes,