Heike Schweitzer in memoriam

On June 11, 2024, Heike Schweitzer has died. She was a law professor at the Humboldt University, Berlin, and one of the most influential academic voices in European competition law. She was a member of the Board of ASCOLA, the Academic Society for Competition Law, and served as ASCOLA’s Vice President from 2016-2019.

After having worked at the Hamburg Max Planck Institute (with Ernst-Joachim Mestmäcker), Heike Schweitzer was a professor at the European University Institute, at Mannheim University, at Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt University. She was heavily involved in policy debates on the national and international level, e.g. as a Special Adviser on digital issues to Commissioner Margrethe Vestager (together with Jacques Crémer and Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye).

Heike is remembered by many in the academic community as a brillant thinker with a clear compass and many innovative ideas, deeply rooted in doctrine, but driving the field of competition law forward. To many at ASCOLA, she was also an admired colleague, an inspiring teacher and adviser – and a good friend. We will miss her.

Heike Schweitzer (1968-2024)

ASCOLA representatives voice concern over independence of competition agencies

Are independent antitrust authorities a must-have for free market economies? The scholars, assembled in ASCOLA, the Academic Society for Competition Law, think so.

In February 2024, ASCOLA President Prof. Rupprecht Podszun and the head of ASCOLA’s Latin America Chapter, Prof. Juan David Gutiérrez, voiced their concern regarding developments in Latin America. In Mexico, the state president announced that he will present a bill to eliminate COFECE, the renowned competition agency. In countries like Colombia, Argentina and Costa Rica, politicians try to capture the agencies or undermine their functioning. “This is unsettling news for consumers, businesses, and investors. (…) The Latin American agencies have greatly inspired the debate in the past years”, write Podszun and Gutiérrez in an opinion piece for the Spanish-language newspaper El País. “If not wholly eliminated, as proposed in Mexico, competition agencies can die with a whimper, being raided of powers by limited budgets, political interference, or a leadership vacuum.”

The two authors call on the business community, practitioners in the field of competition law, scholars, other enforcers and politicians to preserve the powers and the independence of competition agencies – not only in Latin America.

The article is available in English here:

https://english.elpais.com/economy-and-business/2024-02-13/why-market-economies-need-watchdogs.html#

ASCOLA NOEL: Roundtable on international developments

On 20 November 2023, ASCOLA met for an online event, the ASCOLA NOEL, to discuss current development in competition law. The global roundtable, moderated by Giorgio Monti, assembled Mor Bakhoum (Senegal), Soojin Nam (Korea), Eleanor Fox (USA), Vlatka Butorac Malnar (Croatia), Magali Eben (UK) and Juan David Gutiérrez (Colombia). The discussion took place on the eve of the 20th birthday of ASCOLA – the Academic Society for Competition Law was founded in November 2003 in Munich. On this occasion, Josef Drexl, the founding president, shared some memories and ideas with the 80 participants. A video recording will be available on YouTube soon.

#ASCOLA2024: Call for Papers

The Call for Papers for the ASCOLA Annual Conference 2024 in Würzburg, Germany, was published on 15 October 2023. It is available here:

ASCOLA2024 Call for Papers

Please note the changes in conference format and submission that we introduced. For information on the conference, you may also wish to consult this page: ASCOLA Next Conference

Submissions are due by 27 January 2024.  We are looking forward to your contributions!

We sent the Call for Papers to all members with our new newsletter. If you have not yet signed up for it, please register with our team. If you have registered but not received the newsletter, please check your spam folder.

The ASCOLA NOEL – The November Online Event Live!

ASCOLA, the Academic Society for Competition Law, will host the first ASCOLA November Online Event Live (ASCOLA NOEL) on 20 November 2023. We invite you to join us for a round table discussion of competiton law developments around the world – with stellar scholars from different jurisdictions.

Participants will be

  • Prof.  Eleanor Fox (New York University)
  • Prof.  Heike Schweitzer (Humboldt University)
  • Prof.  Mor Bakhoum (Université virtuelle du Sénégal)
  • Prof.  Juan David Gutiérrez (Universidad de los Andes)
  • Prof.  Soojin Nam (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)
  • Prof.  Vlatka Butorac Malnar (University of Rijeka)

Opening remarks will be given by Josef Drexl, the first president of ASCOLA. Giorgio Monti will moderate.

The NOEL will take place on 20 November 2023 at 2 pm CET (Brussels time) on Zoom. The date coincides with the 20th anniversary of founding ASCOLA!

ASCOLA Members can register for receiving the Zoom link by clicking here.

Celebration: 20 years of ASCOLA

Save the date: ASCOLA Conference 2024

The 19th ASCOLA Annual Conference will take place from 4-6 July 2024 in Würzburg, Germany, upon invitation by Professor Florian Bien and Dr Björn-Christian Becker from the University of Würzburg. Würzburg’s University was founded in 1402. The city has a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage palace, the Residence, and is famous for its wine. Würzburg is about one hour by train from Frankfurt International Airport. Florian Bien invited the competition law scholars from around the world to Würzburg at the Athens Conference 2023 – and asked them, not only to prepare high quality papers on antitrust, but also practice their musical skills: There wil be the first ASCOLA Concert! Watch this space for more information.

#ASCOLA2023: Conference in Athens with record numbers

The ASCOLA Annual Conference 2023 in Athens ended on 3 July 2023 after four intense days of discussions on competition law. This was the largest ASCOLA conference ever with 38 panels, several plenary sessions and about 150 participants from all over the world. The conference was organised by Professors Alexandra Mikroulea and Manos Mastromanolis from the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens together with the Hellenic Competition Commission under the leadership of Professor Ioannis Lianos. The organisers and their teams deserve the thanks of the ASCOLA community for their extraordinary efforts and the great event at the Greek capital.

The highlight of the conference were of course the numerous panels with presentations of scholarly work – the papers had been chosen in a peer review process. The Best Junior Paper Award 2023 was won by Elias Deutscher (University of East Anglia) & Stavros Makris (University of Glasgow) for their paper “Merger Control and Sustainability”. The keynote speech was given by Professor Herbert Hovenkamp (University of Pennsylvania) who is said to be the most cited antitrust professor in the world. He spoke on “Markets and Gatekeepers”. In the “Economist Debate”, Olivier Guersent (Director General for Competition, EU), Tomasso Valletti (Imperial College London, former Chief Economist of EU DG Competition) and Chrysovalantou Milliou (Hellenic Competition Commission) discussed economic challenges for competition. In a TED Talk Session, hosted by Rupprecht Podszun (University of Düsseldorf) younger scholars presented their research in gripping 90-seconds-talks. The inspiring final session looked into the production of knowledge and the engagement of academics with enforcers and policy-makers. Social events included the 20th birthday party of ASCOLA in the Benaki Museum, a trip to the scenic Sounion and to the Acropolis Museum.

ASCOLA also held elections. After seven years in office Michal Gal (University of Haifa) stepped down as President. The Assembly thanked her with standing ovations for her excellent work over the years. Her successor is Rupprecht Podszun (University of Düsseldorf). Peter Picht (Zurich, for finances), Thomas Cheng (Hong Kong), Magali Eben (Glasgow), Giorgio Monti (Tilburg) and Wendy Ng (Melbourne) will serve as Vice Presidents. New members were also elected to the larger board of ASCOLA.

The next ASCOLA conference will be held in Würzburg, Germany, upon invitation by Professor Florian Bien and Dr Björn-Christian Becker on 4-6 July 2024.

The photo gallery holds some impressions from the 2023 conference (for more see here).

Election of a new ASCOLA Board – Thank you, Michal Gal!

The General Assembly of ASCOLA has elected a new board and a new executive committee in its meeting in Athens on 30 June 2023. After seven years in office, professor Michal Gal of Haifa University stepped down as president. Rupprecht Podszun of the University of Düsseldorf who had been the Vice President since 2019 was elected as her successor. He will run ASCOLA with a team: Vice Presidents are Peter Picht (Zurich, VP for finances), Thomas Cheng (Hong Kong), Magali Eben (Glasgow), Giorgio Monti (Tilburg) and Wendy Ng (Melbourne).

The Assembly thanked Michal Gal for her hard work and her dedication to ASCOLA. During her presidency – professor Gal was elected in Leiden in 2016 – membership of ASCOLA nearly tripled to now 630 members. Michal Gal led ASCOLA with passion. Members gave her standing ovations.

With the new Executive Committee ASCOLA wishes to broaden its reach internationally and consolidate the organisation. Professor Podszun promised that the new team will try to keep the standards of excellence in research but also preserve the community feeling that is so characteristic of the ASCOLA group.

The Assembly also elected a new Board, the larger body that carries the responsibility. The current members were re-elected and new members added that represent the wider geographic range: Zeynep Ayata (Turkey), Mor Bakhoum (Senegal), Magali Eben (UK), Juan David Gutierrez (Colombia), Vikas Kathuria (India), Wendy Ng (Australia), Jasminka Pecotic Kaufman (Croatia) and Masako Wakui (Japan) were elected to the Board. Also, it was decided that the respective organiser of the conference is co-opted as a member of the board.

Three ASCOLA members were appointed Directors for special projects: Fabiana Di Porto (Director for Best Junior Paper Award), Viktoria Robertson (Director for Scholarships) and Jurgita Malinauskaite (Director for Mentoring).

With the new governance structure and people ASCOLA looks well-equipped to manage the next steps in its new decade: In Athens, members celebrated 20 years of ASCOLA. The organisation was founded in Munich in 2003. Former President Paul Nihoul (now a judge at the European Court) shared thoughts in a speech on the occasion.

Michal Gal, ASCOLA President 2016-2023, giving her closing remarks at the Athens #ASCOLA2023 conference.

The new ASCOLA Executive Committee: Rupprecht Podszun, Thomas Cheng, Magali Eben, Giorgio Monti, Wendy Ng, Peter Picht.

 

Michal Gal (President 2016-2023) and Rupprecht Podszun (President as of 2023), pictured here at the seaside during the ASCOLA dinner at Sounion, Greece.

Former ASCOLA President Paul Nihoul shared thoughts on 20 years of ASCOLA.