Introduction

In the morning of 6 June 2005 the Bundeskartellamt will host its 12th International Conference on Competition (Internationale Kartellkonferenz, IKK) in Bonn. As always, our conference starts with a social event on the eve of the conference. After a boat trip on the Rhine in the afternoon of 5 June we will meet in the evening for a buffet in the Chestnut Garden of Hotel Dreesen.

The conference, which is usually a one-and-a-half-day event, has been organised every other year since 1982. It has become one of the most renowned events of its kind in the world. The heads of competition authorities from industrial, transition and developing countries, judges, antitrust lawyers, academics, politicians as well as German and foreign entrepreneurs come together to discuss a current topic of competition policy and law. On the occasion of the 11th International Conference on Competition, which was held in 2003 in Bonn, we had the honour of welcoming around 300 participants from more than 50 countries and various international organisations.

The International Conference on Competition will begin on Monday 6 June 2005 in the International Congress Centre Bundeshaus Bonn. The conference will be followed by the 4th Annual Conference of the International Competition Network (ICN) which will commence the same day in the afternoon. This year, the 12th IKK precedes the 4th ICN Annual Conference and takes as its main theme

The Competition Principle as a Guideline for Legislation and State Action
The Responsibility of Politics and the Role of Competition Authorities

According to the traditional self-conception of competition authorities, their central task is to combat private restraints of competition. Merger control, the combat of cartels and abuse control are geared towards preventing competition restraints by private companies or, where restraints already exist, effectively prohibiting them. Accordingly, the instruments available to the competition authorities are prohibition decisions, obligations and fines imposed on private companies.
While the question of how to enforce the principle of competition among enterprises is often raised, the extent to which the legislator and administration are guided by it is rarely discussed. Yet, observing the principle of competition is just as eminently important for state and political action. Therefore, on the occasion of the 12th International Conference on Competition the question will be discussed as to what extent individual jurisdictions observe the concept of competition when drafting new legislation. How much scope of action as regards the observation of the principle of competition does an administration have when enforcing state regulations? What role does the state itself play in implementing competition restraints and how much influence do competition authorities have on reducing existing state-imposed restrictions of competition and preventing new restrictions? What are the instruments at the competition authorities’ disposal to promote the principle of competition as a guideline for legislation and state action? These questions and more will be discussed at the 12th IKK in introductory speeches and the following panel discussion.

Throughout the conference, simultaneous translation in English, French and German will be offered.