The global financial and economic crisis has prompted some scholars to suggest that a fundamental regulatory shift away from neoliberalism will take place – both in general and in the field of EU competition regulation. This paper shows that so far no radical break with the neoliberal type of competition regulation is heaving into sight. It sets out to explain this from the vantage point of a critical political economy perspective, which identifies the circumstances under which a crisis can result in a regulatory paradigm shift. Contrasting the current situation with the shift in EC/EU competition regulation after the crisis in the 1970s, the paper argues that the preconditions for a fundamental shift in this issue area are not present this time around. Several reasons account for this: the current crisis has been construed by economic and political elites as a crisis within and not of neoliberal capitalism; the social power configuration underpinning the neoliberal order remains unaltered; no clear counter-project has surfaced; the European Commission has been (and remains) in a position to oppose radical changes; and finally, there are no signs of a wider paradigm shift in the EU's regulatory architecture.
- Capitalist crisis
- Critical political economy approach
- Bank bailouts
- Competition regulation
- European Union