the system and not only to one side of the market (since a barrier on one side may encourage entry on the other side).12
All these cases make clear the determination of the Commission to pursue price fixing and exclusion agreements in the banking sector, in particular when they go against the creation and functioning of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Such behavior contrasts with the previous approach of some national regulators that supported and even encouraged collusion and rent creation among banks with the aim of avoiding disruptions and preserving a stable system. But what is the best approach? Should competition rules be applied fully to the banking sector or should the persecution of cartels be more lenient in the banking sector? Does price fixing enhance stability? Most of the academic literature suggests that some market power is beneficial for stability, but most likely there are more efficient ways of preserving stability than price fixing. Competition should be fostered and stability should be maintained with an efficient prudential framework and adequate arrangements for crises resolution.
6. 4. Abuse of dominant position The Commission examined only one case of abuse in the financial system so far in relation to the clearing and settlement of securities. The examination originated from an ex-officio investigation into clearing and settlement services launched by the Commission in March 2001. After collecting information from a number of operators, the Commission focused its examination on Clearstream Banking AG and its parent company Clearstream International SA for potential abuse against Euroclear Bank in the market for the provision of cross-border clearing and settlement services for securities issued according to German law to intermediaries situated in other Member States. Clearstream operated in a clear dominant position in that market being the only Central Securities Depositories (CSDs) conducting the “primary” clearing and settlement services (i.e., Germany’s only Wertpapiersammelbank), and therefore being an unavoidable trading partner. Despite numerous requests, Clearbank denied Euroclear the access to the
See Rochet and Tirole (2003) for an analysis of two-sided markets, and Wright (2004) for the dangers of using one-sided logic to two-sided markets.