Competition Council President on potentially being replaced by Mihai Tudose: Any major modification to the law must be agreed with European Commission. We are minding our business here

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Competition Council President Bogdan Chiritoiu states that any major modification to the law that concerns the institution’s activity must be agreed with the European Commission, and the authority’s employees “are minding their business.” According to recent press information, ex-Premier Mihai Tudose is “in the books” as Bogdan Chiritoiu’s replacement, however the ex-Premier denied any interest in this office.

“In our view, we are minding our business here. Obviously, legislation changes can be made. Each year we refine the Competition Law, modifications were carried out last year too. If we are talking about substantial, major modifications to the law, these must be tackled with care, the European Commission will have to be consulted because competition legislation is not strictly national,” Bogdan Chiritoiu stated in a press conference, according to news.ro.

This is Bogdan Chiritoiu’s second stint at the helm of the competition authority, and his term in office is set to expire in 2020. Moreover, the activity of the institution was appreciated by the European Commission during his term in office.

“I believe it’s early. For the time being, there is a bill; it will be discussed if desired. We have two vacant mandates within the Council (two advisor’s mandates – editor’s note). But we are all minding our activity,” he added.

A bill amending the Competition Law is waiting the endorsement of the Economic and Social Council (ECS) in order to enter the House.

“The amendment bill that exists now in Parliament has received a negative report from the Government, partly also because the rules cannot be modified during the game, because it would be unconstitutional. If there are modifications, they will concern only the things set to occur,” Chiritoiu added.

Last year, the Competition Council issued fines worth RON 123.11 million (EUR 27.35 million), up by 60 percent year-on-year. In 2016, the fines totalled RON 76.8 million, a Competition Council report published on Tuesday shows.

Last year, 156 companies and associations were fined, 33 of which admitted their lawbreaking and thus benefitted from reduced fines. Likewise, one company (AEM SA) signed up for the clemency programme, bringing evidence that led to the solving of the case, thus benefitting from immunity from fine.

For the first time, the Competition Council offered a reduction of the fine for payment incapacity.

At the end of 2017, the Competition Council was handling 36 investigations into the potential breaking of the competition law, up by one investigation year-on-year.

At the end of December 2017, 11 sectoral investigations were ongoing, a number identical to the one registered at the end of 2016.

Twenty-two surprise inspections were carried out at 135 working points and headquarters in 2017, compared to 13 such actions targeting 68 headquarters in 2016.

The Competition Council was a party in 189 competition lawsuits, compared to 173 in 2016.

The percentage of High Court of Cassation and Justice rulings favourable to the Competition Council stood at 100 percent for the third consecutive year.

The Bucharest Court of Appeals upheld 72 percent of the fines challenged in 2017.