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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Vincent Verouden

Vincent Verouden

E.CA Economics500 Louizalaan / Avenue LouiseBrusselsBelgiumB-1050

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Vincent, a Dutch national, is a director of E.CA Economics. He has over 15 years’ experience across all areas of competition policy (antitrust, merger control, state aid control). He started working at the European Commission in 2000, first in the merger task force and subsequently for the chief economist team. In 2012, he was appointed deputy chief economist of DG Competition. In 2014, Vincent joined E.CA Economics in its Brussels office.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE CAREER OF A COMPETITION ECONOMIST? 

It was the beauty of economic modelling! Just take the 1988 book of Nobel prize laureate Jean Tirole, The Theory of Industrial Organization, and you will know what I am talking about. To learn how markets work (or don’t work), what drives competition and how competition is affected by firm conduct and by mergers is really fascinating. Later, of course, came the task of applying all these learnings in practice – equally fascinating. 

WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT ENTERING THE COMPETITION PRACTICE AREA? 

Connecting theory to practice is always a challenge. A well-known econometrician once wrote in the preface to his book: “Econometrics is easier without data.” How true! In practice, one often has to accept that the data is, in the end, not perfect and that one has to accept some margin of error. But the goal is to keep that margin to an absolute minimum, given time and resource constraints. 

HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED PRACTISING? 

Compared to the time I started (the beginning of the new millennium), the enforcement of the competition laws has clearly become more effects-oriented; it has moved away from an (overly) structuralist approach. This applies to merger control, but also to antitrust and state aid control. As a result, competition economics has also become much more data-intensive, a development that has gone hand in hand with the tremendously increased data collection and processing capabilities of computer hardware and software. 

HOW DOES E.CA ECONOMICS DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION? 

E.CA Economics is a renowned European economics consultancy that builds its case-related advice in the fields of competition policy and regulation on thorough research. As a partner of ESMT Berlin, a leading business school in Germany, we can draw on the latest economic research and insights. On transatlantic cases we work jointly with our US partner firm, Bates White LLC. These forms of collaboration allow us to be at the forefront of competition economics. 

IN WHAT WAYS HAS THE INTEL JUDGMENT IMPACTED THE MARKET?

The Intel judgment obviously fits in well with a more general openness to consider the effects (actual or likely) of a given practice. As such, it allows more economic analysis in the context of abuse of dominance cases, for instance of the extent of the company’s dominant position and the foreclosure potential of the challenged practice. At the same time, the economic analysis does not start from an entirely empty sheet, which is good. The judgment indicates that, in principle, a dominant firm which ties purchasers either by an explicit obligation or via a system of loyalty rebates to obtain all or most of their requirements exclusively from that company abuses its dominant position. This is still a very sensible starting point in my view. 

YOU HAVE RECENTLY BEEN APPOINTED TO THE EUROPEAN POLICY CENTRE’S “LEVEL PLAYING FIELD POST-BREXIT” WORKING GROUP. WHAT ARE THE MAIN ISSUES THE GROUP WILL HAVE TO ADDRESS? 

The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. This is of course a (regrettable) separation, but intense (and more upbeat) discussions are ongoing on the future relationship between the UK and the EU post-Brexit. One of the main questions being discussed is how to ensure a “level playing field” in EU-UK trading relations, the aim of which is to ensure that neither side will obtain an unfair competitive advantage through undercutting current rules and levels of protection with respect to competition and state aid, taxation, social and workers’ rights, the environment, and regulatory measures and practices. The EPC working group serves as a soundboard to the Commission’s task force 50. Interestingly, the working group is composed of both EU27 and UK nationals, which should normally lead to a balanced input into the process. 

WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF THE PRACTICE AREA LIE?

The future of the practice will, most likely, be a continuation of the steady development towards a greater openness towards the effects (actual or likely) of a given practice, merger or state subsidy. Still, there should remain some (sound) per se rules and guidance by the agencies and courts to steer the practice area at large. While this is the most likely course of action, one cannot fully rule out the advent of more protectionist, mercantilist and/or “populist” tendencies in some parts of the world. It would be good to keep the “pure” competition instrument intact. It has served Western societies very well I think.  

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER ECONOMISTS THAT WANT TO ENTER THE COMPETITION MARKET? 

Work on your empirical and theoretical skills! Both are really important to become an effective competition economist. And try to experience “all sides” of the market. Work for some years in a competition agency to understand how the agencies work. Work in the private sector to see how the business side works. And stay connected to academia. 

Global Leader

Competition - Economists 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Vincent Verouden is held in high esteem by peers in the competition market who point to his impressive work on merger control and state aid matters.

Biography

Vincent Verouden, PhD, joined E.CA Economics in 2014 as a director of the Brussels office, after having served as a deputy chief economist at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG Competition).

Vincent, a Dutch national, started his professional career at DG Competition in January 2000. In his early years there, he worked for the merger task force (MTF). In addition to reviewing individual merger cases, he was also one of the co-authors of the commission’s Horizontal Merger Guidelines, published in 2004. Subsequently, Vincent worked for DG Competition’s Chief Economist Team (CET), serving as deputy chief economist between 2012 and 2014. In his time at the CET, Vincent took a lead role in the development of the Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines (2008) and the Commission’s antitrust inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector (2008–2009) and related cases. He was also deeply involved in the economic analysis of state aid cases and the development of policy in this field (state aid modernisation).

His present consulting activities span the fields of antitrust, merger control and state aid control. Recent engagements include work for Airbus Helicopter, ArcelorMittal, Heineken, HeidelbergCement, LG Chem, CVC Capital Partners and Jacobs Holding AG.

Vincent is a Solvay fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and a maître de conférences at the University of Liège/Brussels School of Competition. He is the author of many publications on competition policy, and a co-editor of the reference book EU State Aid Control: Law and Economics (Kluwer, 2017).

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Vincent Verouden is held in high esteem by peers in the competition market who praise his impressive work on merger control and state aid matters.

Biography

Vincent Verouden, PhD, joined E.CA Economics in 2014 as a director of the Brussels office, after having served as a deputy chief economist at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG Competition).

Vincent, a Dutch national, started his professional career at DG Competition in January 2000. In his early years there, he worked for the merger task force (MTF). In addition to reviewing individual merger cases, he was also one of the co-authors of the Commission’s Horizontal Merger Guidelines, published in 2004. Subsequently, Vincent worked for DG Competition’s Chief Economist Team (CET), serving as deputy chief economist between 2012 and 2014. In his time at the CET, Vincent took a lead role in the development of the Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines (2008) and the Commission’s antitrust inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector (2008–2009) and related cases. He was also deeply involved in the economic analysis of state aid cases and the development of policy in this field (state aid modernisation).

His present consulting activities span the fields of antitrust, merger control and state aid control. Recent engagements include work for Airbus Helicopter, ArcelorMittal, Heineken, HeidelbergCement, LG Chem, CVC Capital Partners and Jacobs Holding AG.

Vincent is an extramural fellow at the Tilburg Law and Economics Centre (TILEC), a solvay fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and a maître de conférences at the University of Liège/Brussels School of Competition. He is the author of many publications on competition policy, and a co-editor of the reference book EU State aid control: Law and Economics (Kluwer, 2017).

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