After summarizing the results and events in the area of competition development in the last year, the Competition Council of Latvia (the CC) has set its operational priorities for 2017. As the most significant priorities shall be mentioned ensuring of equal competition conditions both to the private sector and the state and local governments, as well as active operation in combating of infringements that are detected in Latvia most frequently – prohibited agreements in public procurements.
When the CC determined the priorities and tasks for 2017, it relied on the results of the public opinion survey, which was carried out in the last autumn, the authority’s vision about the current processes in sectors and on markets of Latvia, as well as on the accumulated knowledge about strategic progress of the competition policy and law application issues in the European Union and worldwide.
Taking into consideration the survey results, received applications and discussions organized at various levels, the CC sets addressing distortions of competition caused by public persons, i.e., the state and local governments, as the priority. Currently, in such cases the CC is entitled only to give recommendatory opinions. In order to be able to prevent such distortions most efficiently, thus ensuring equal opportunities both for the private and public sectors, amendments to the Competition Law are drafted.
The Chairwoman of the CC Skaidrīte Ābrama: “As long as the Competition Law will not address one of the largest problems for ensuring fair and equal entrepreneurship in Latvia – competition distortions and ignorance of the competition neutrality principle, caused by the state and local governments –, the law will be very incomplete. I really hope, that these amendments, harmonization of which is delayed, will be adopted in this year, and the Competition Council will at last have an instrument, which will discipline also public persons to refrain from groundless discrimination of companies and supporting of state-owned enterprises.”
The CC also sets as the absolute priority detection and prevention of the most severe infringement of competition law – conclusion of bid-rigging and abuse of dominant position. Taking into consideration, that bid-rigging is the most frequently detected competition infringement, the CC will continue working on promotion of the competition culture, including education of entrepreneurs on how not to conclude prohibited agreements during cooperation, and organizers of procurements on how to detect alleged prohibited agreements of tenderers.
In order to analyse the competition situation on markets comprehensively, the CC will study as a priority such sectors as energetics, digital economy, pharmacy, bank services, public procurements, as well as relations of retailers and suppliers of food products. These are sectors, where obstacles for efficient development of competition can be observed or where the interaction of regulation and market functioning is not clear enough, or where complaints on alleged infringements of competition law are received frequently in recent years.
To explain application of competition law to entrepreneurs and make the authority practice transparent, the CC will develop new guidelines and will specify a range of regulatory enactments in 2017. For example, in order to raise awareness of the opportunities offered by the Leniency programme to persons involved in cartel infringements and the procedure for its application, the CC will prepare guidelines on the procedures for examination of reports submitted in the framework of the Leniency programme.
Also in this year the CC calls companies and their associations, as well as each inhabitant of Latvia for cooperation, support and communication, in order to improve competition law, make the authority operation more efficient and to clarify the issues of application of competition law.
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Competition Council of Latvia
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