Part of the series "EU Policy Responses to Covid-19"

Ensuring fair competition has long been a core pillar of the European Union (EU). In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the EU has diverted significantly from its traditional commitment to market-based competition, notably in state aid and foreign subsidies. This paper explores change and continuity in post-Covid-19 European competition policy (ECP) by considering both the radicality and permanence of these changes. Using process-tracing based on primary documents, secondary materials, and personal interviews, this paper examines recent shifts in EU competition policy, probing three causal factors: 1) digitization of the global economy; 2) geopoliticization of competition regulation; and 3) Brexit. We argue that the Covid-19 crisis has brought these pre-existing challenges to ECP to the fore and, thereby, created space for policy entrepreneurs in EU member state governments and institutions to push for greater promotion and protection of European industry in the internal market while reinforcing supranational competition enforcement.

Supported by the Paul Sarbanes ’54 Fund for Hellenism and Public Service

Sophie Meunier is Senior Research Scholar at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and Co-Director of the EU Program at Princeton

Justinas Mickus is a recent graduate of Princeton University and is starting his MPhil in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge