We test the economic principles that play a role for imposing fines against the intentions put forward by the EC Commission in the new 2006 Fine Guidelines.
Whereas a number of economists in the past adopted the opinion that cartel enforcement policy was too lax in Europe, it is now much stricter.
The 2006 Fine Guidelines only bear a slight link to the economic determinants of the advantages that an infringement produces. As a result, they introduce distortions, in the sense that some offenders are dealt with more severely than others. It is therefore not possible to translate stricter enforcement into more effective enforcement. While serious offenders may still escape with a relatively favorable fine, there is now a risk that 'overkill' will be created in other cases.