Competition Law and Regional Economic Integration is part of the World Bank Working Paper series. These papers are published to communicate the results of the Bank's ongoing research and to stimulate public discussion. This study argues that adoption and strengthening of a competition law regime is a key component of the regulatory reforms in the Mediterranean region. It also argues that the competition rules inserted in the Association Agreements signed between the European Union (EU) and the Mediterranean Partners (MPs) currently do not provide adequate protection against anti-competitive practices affecting trade between these blocks. The competition law regimes adopted by the MPs are generally poorly enforced with the consequence that many domestic anti-competitive practices remain unchallenged. Competition authorities in the MPs should develop a realistic enforcement agenda and ensure that the limited resources of these authorities are used in the most effective manner possible. In addition, this study addresses the issue of regulatory convergence between the EU and the MPs in the field of competition law, that is whether the MPs should align their competition rules with European Community competition rules. It argues that while such convergence would bring a series of benefits to both the EU and the MPs, it would also involve costs. The study thus argues in favor of a prudent approach whereby the transposition of EC competition rules would be based on the local circumstances of each country. In its final part, this study proposes a series of steps that could be taken by the European Union and its Mediterranean Partners to strengthen competition policy in the region, including proposals for technical assistance in the field of competition.
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