COMPANIES FINANCE&BANKING

Competition Council celebrates 20 years of activity: We need credible authorities, way far from political influence, says President Iohannis

President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday has bestowed the “Industrial and Commercial Merit” Order in the rank of Officer, on the Competition Council, on the council’s 20th anniversary since its establishment.

The head of the state asserted that Romania needs credible authorities, that must be far away from the influences of both the political area and the operators amongst the competition game.

Iohannis said that lately the Competition Council has finalised 140 investigations on various sectors of the economy, and the solving deadlines were significantly cut.

“We need authorities that must not only have a strictly sanctioning role, but a preventive, educational role, in particular as regards competition, which is the very essence of market economy and the entrepreneurship spirit,” added Iohannis.

The head of the state stressed that at the European level, a strong, efficient policy in competition field has been a rock of the single market project. He congratulated the council for its 20 years of activity, adding that “all this period, you have pursued with professionalism and responsibility to achieve the Council’s institutional role, namely to advocate the competition, to track down and sanction the violation of the competition rules.”

The Competition Council’s President, Bogdan Chiritoiu asserted he receives the distinction as “an encouragement to continue on the road we have committed to for so many years, to make efforts to be more efficient, to be professionals, to do our job better and at the same time to collaborate with the institutions, to build the skillfulness of the Romanian state to enforce the laws intelligently, so they ensure the economic environment’s functioning in optimum conditions.”

President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday has signed the decree of presenting the Competition Council with “Industrial and Commercial Merit” Order in the rank of Officer, an award granted on the 20th anniversary since its establishment, in “high appreciation for ensuring a modern competitive environment, that aims to protect, maintain and stimulate competition, with a view to promote the consumers’ interests.”

 

EUR 1 billion, savings for people, in 20 years of activity of the Competition Council

 

The 20 years of activity of the Competition Authority is summed up, in figures, at savings of EUR 1 billion for people and EUR 158.7 million representing money that reached the budget. Behind the numbers, the most important achievement is the enforcement of the Competition Law as the main rule in the economy.

“Twenty years of competition in Romania is a high target. Today, the Competition Council has the same attributions as the other similar institutions in the world: to protect consumers and to stop the big companies from making abuses. The most important responsibility is to be able to ensure that laws are respected”, stated on Thursday Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner responsible for Competition Policy, in the opening of the conference celebrating 20 years of activity of the Competition Council in Romania.

In the 20 years of activity, the Competition Council generated over EUR 1 billion of savings for Romanian people, according to a study by the Academy of Economic Studies, which assessed the impact of Romanian competition policy on 10 key industries in the national economy: banking services, compulsory Motor Third Party Liability insurance, private pension fund management, cement production and marketing, mobile telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and health services, electricity generation and distribution, fuel distribution, retail and liberal professions, respectively, reads the press release issued by the Competition Authority.

Of this amount of EUR 1 billion, more than a half belongs to the telecommunications sector – EUR 575 million, a filed in which the Competition Council’s interventions through the investigations carried out or through proposals for adjusting the specific legislation and good cooperation with the market regulator authority (ANCOM) ensured a competitive mobile and fixed telecommunication market, compared to other European states: quality services at reasonable prices for consumers, respectively a high degree of penetration among the population.

In the fuel distribution sector, instrumenting two cartel cases finalized with sanctions, as well as ongoing market monitoring, led to the development of a set of measures and actions to stimulate competition in the field, which generated savings of EUR 145 million.

Also, the Competition Council’s actions have had a major impact on the field of electricity, liberal professions, pharmaceuticals, etc.

Since 1997 until today, 345 investigations have been started, of which 51.8% are self-actions.

Of the total of 345 investigations, 69.2% referred to anti-competitive practices, namely agreements between companies and abuse of dominant position, while 15.36% were related to mergers (transactions) that were not notified to the competition authority.

Since 1997 until today, the Competition Council has issued 4028 decisions, of which 515 were sanctioning decisions or decision for accepting undertakings from companies.

Until the end of 2003, separate decisions were issued to establish the breach of the law and to sanction companies. Since 2004, with the amendment of the Competition Law, this methodology has been changed, with only one decision being made for both finding and sanctioning. Changing the methodology and removing some of the notification obligations have led to a decrease in the number of decisions issued.

The budget of the competition authority, in its 20 years of operation, is about EUR 158.7 million. In 2004, the Competition Office was taken over by the Competition Council.

 

 

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