Symposium in Brussels honors antitrust and competition law work of Eleanor Fox ’61

Leading competition law scholars from around the world convened at the Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels on June 8 for a symposium honoring the scholarship of antitrust and competition law expert Eleanor Fox ’61, Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation.

The event, titled “Competition Policy at the Intersection of Equity and Efficiency,” featured 30 speakers in all, with keynote addresses by Mario Monti, a former prime minister of Italy, and Chief Judge Diane Wood of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Five panels examined topics encompassed by Fox’s scholarship, such as making markets work for people in the context of inequality and poverty, the role and design of antitrust enforcement in global governance, the ideology of antitrust, and comparative competition law. Participants included Giuliano Amato, another former prime minister of Italy, as well as Professor Daniel Rubinfeld.

In her keynote, Wood—a friend of Fox for some three decades and a fellow antitrust law and international procedure practitioner—explained the import of Fox’s pioneering achievement in being one of a very few female lawyers at a top firm in the early 1960s. Fox went on to break other glass ceilings in the profession. Wood suggested that Fox’s “outsider” position allowed Fox to develop a prescient view of the future of antitrust law that was initially seen as iconoclastic but ultimately was vindicated. Spotting trends in antitrust jurisprudence that she attributed to an oversimplification of the market, Fox, in her own scholarship, has pursued research related to developing countries, poverty, and inequality, looking at how open markets and the eradication of corruption can address marginalization and promote economic opportunity and inclusive development. These investigations have brought her international notice and multiple awards.

“Eleanor has been a leader in both domestic and international competition law,” said Wood. “She has the extraordinary ability to see the issues from many sides at the same time—an ability that I believe started when she brought her unique perspective to this field as the only woman in the room, but a woman who was always willing and able to challenge the conventional wisdom. She puts herself in the shoes of the excluded dealer, of the company that was forced out of business by the dominant firm’s predatory practices, of the smaller country trying to establish a sound competition law for the first time, or of the larger country for which this is a new endeavor.”

After hearing a daylong discussion of her work, Fox had the last word in her closing remarks, which were focused on the themes of equity, efficiency, and vision. She argued that the developed world imposes costs on the developing world that stunt its development, closes channels for efficient competition, and then blames the developing world for “backwardness.” She asserted also that nations overlook the bigger picture in mega-mergers, failing to take into account the competitive dynamic lost when a merger removes a leading competitor.

Fox commented later on the views expressed in her speech: “There are obvious solutions to these problems that lie in the shared space of efficiency and equity, but we are too short-sighted, unimaginative, and blindered by the silos of our expertise to take the right path. Trade and competition regimes need to ‘speak’ to each other, and we need to raise our vision a few notches to see the world or region as community.”

The symposium was co-organized by the Global Competition Law Center at the College of Europe and the University College London Centre for Law, Economics and Society.

Posted June 23, 2016