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December 9, 2022

It’s crucial that Competition Council’s fines stand in court

Institution President Bogdan Chiritoiu says most fines amounting to EUR 300 M have already been collected by the state budget.

The Competition Council (CC) sometimes applies very harsh sanctions and the fines are budget revenue. According to the President of the Council, Bogdan Chiritoiu, it is crucial that the decisions made by the institutions are sustained by the Court. ‘We make decisions, sometimes we enforce very harsh penalties, the budget receives substantial sums from these fines, but it is crucial that we are able to support our decisions in Court’, Chiritoiu said at a press conference yesterday on the occasion of the presentation of the CC 2012 work report. Attending the event, PM Victor Ponta said he had found in the institution more a partner than a very severe referee and stressed that, even if sometimes they upset or annoy, the rules set in the EU at the end of the day help Romania grow from an economic and institutional point of view.
Chiritoiu said the first decisions on the sanctions applied on the telecom and oil product markets were expected from the Court of Appeal of Bucharest in the following weeks. Most of the fines –mounting to EUR 300 M have already been cashed by the budget, according to Chiritoiu. He also said a few important cases would be recorded this year, ones he expects the institution he represents to finalise – recycling of electronic waste, food trading and energy market. In addition, the Council might also conclude checks on the segment of advertising agencies and gambling. On the other hand, the Competition Council intends to launch in 2013 several analyses on the market, looking at segments such as electricity or the road construction industry. A draft ordinance wants to postpone, in the period from July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2016, the award of green certificates to renewable energy producers and big consumers would only buy certificates for half of the energy they use.
According to Chiritoiu, the exemption of big energy consumers from the payment of half of the required green certificates could be seen as state aid and the Government would need the approval of the European Commission for granting such incentive. At the same time, the CC yesterday launched a public debate on the inter-bank commissions charged for financial operations using cards.
He noted that, in the CC’s opinion, the level of those commissions at a local level – 1-1.2 per cent – was high compared to the EU average and the activity related to cards was profitable to banks even in the absence of such commission.

20 state aid projects to be completed this year
Attending the event, the Minister-Delegate for the Budget, Liviu Voinea, said a total of 20 major investment projects with a combined value of ERUR 750 M, that had received state aid, were to be completed in the course of this year and added that they were expected to create 6,700 jobs in Romania. Apart from the 20 big projects, the minister said new agreements were under preparation for state aid schemes granted with the approval of the European Commission.
The agreement for the company Coficab Ploiesti, has already been issued, the operator currently implementing a EUR 18.3 M investment, EUR 7.3 M of which represents state aid. The project will set up 200 new jobs. Another company that will benefit from EUR 9 M state aid is Valeo Lighting Timis, for an investment of EUR 20.3 M which will bring a total of 500 new jobs on the market. The minister-delegate for the budget added agreements for Continental Anvelope Timisoara (EUR 25 M investment and 227 jobs), a Bucharest-based company planning to invest almost EUR 30 M in tourism and to create 200 jobs and Endava (EUR 20 M investment and 500 new jobs)  were in process of being issued. Voinea said four other agreements with a combined investment value of EUR 100 M were under discussion. In addition, according to Voinea, the new de minimis state aid scheme might benefit a total of 1,000 SMEs that could create 1,000 new jobs.
On May 30/31, the Competition Council hosts in Bucharest the meeting of the heads of competition authorities in the European Union and AELS (European Free Trade Association) – ECA. Apart from the approximately 35 heads of authorities, the event will also be attended by the Director General of DG Competition from the European Commission, Alexander Italianer. These meetings have been taking place every year since 2001, the year when ECA was founded, being organised under the presidency of one of the ECA member states. ECA was set up in 2001 as a forum of debate on competition subjects, for the purpose of developing cooperation among competition authorities for an effective and consistent enforcement of competition rules. The Competition Council became a member when  Romania joined the EU in January 2007.

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