Over 100 delegates from business, politics, the law and the media gathered on Monday 13 June 2016 (10 before the UK referendum) for the inaugural Reform Club Competition Conference: “Competition and Competitiveness in the EU”. Euclid Law’s first major event, which took place at the Reform Club on Pall Mall in London, was co-sponsored by Agon Partners (Switzerland) and FTDP Avocats (France), and chaired by Oliver Bretz, Founding Partner of Euclid Law (London).
The Conference opened with a buffet lunch and delegates enjoyed a short recital by operatic tenor Stephen Aviss, accompanied by Felix Rigg on the piano. In keeping with the discussions on Brexit, the theme of the musical program was ‘breaking-up’ through English, German and Italian songs.
The opening speech was delivered by The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, who spoke on ‘The Importance of Services and Legal Services to the UK economy”. Mr. Buckland emphasised that Brexit would lead to a “complicated…convoluted…and unproductive” process to disentangle UK legislation from the EU. Buckland warned that the UK would commit a “historic mistake” if voters chose to leave the EU on 23 June. A chaired discussion on “UK Services and Competitiveness” followed, and Mr. Buckland was joined by fellow Conservative members of the UK parliament, Jonathan Djanogly MP, and Alan Mak MP. All three speakers highlighted the benefits of remaining in the EU, and the risks and legal complexities that could be triggered following a leave vote.
The second part of the Conference focused on competition law. Peter Freeman CBE QC (Hon) (Chairman, Competition Appeal Tribunal) spoke on “The Role of Competition Law in UK Competitiveness”, discussing the beneficial contribution of competition law to the UK’s economy. Charlotte de Tasso Panafieu (Partner at FTDP Avocats) opened the session on State Aid, and introduced Gert-Jan Koopman (Deputy Director General, DG Competition, European Commission) who spoke on “The Importance of EU State Aid and the level playing field”, focusing on energy, tax avoidance and financial services.
The final presentation was given by Prof. Tommaso Valletti (Imperial College London) who made his first public speaking debut since his appointment as the new Chief Economist of DG Competition. Prof. Valletti spoke on the topic of “Economic Efficiency and Competitiveness”, and set out the ways in which he wants to change how Commission officials currently evaluate the impact of antitrust enforcement actions. Prof. Valletti will take his post from 1 September 2016.
The concluding remarks were given by Patrick Krauskopf (Chairman of AGON Partners), who provided an enlightening insight into the Swiss view of Europe and the practicalities of the Swiss model.
The Conference was followed by drinks and a networking dinner in the Strangers Room of the Reform Club.
Prof. Tommaso Valletti: Economic Effciency and Competitiveness
Gert-Jan Koopman: The importance of EU State Aid and the level playing field