It was again a great conference (great content, talks, company, and conclusions) representing not only competition advocacy, but also an opportunity to improve the institution’s tools and approaches based on a more informed debate. This new edition of the Romanian Competition Council’s Report undoubtedly proved a continuously rethinking of performance, thanks to an accumulated experience by refining its working practices and delivering decisions in a more timely manner without reducing quality, improving the methodology for analysis, reconfirming the impact of the promotion of the competition culture on the relevant markets and the worthwhile contribution to our economic performance, by tackling competition problems and encouraging compliance, struggling to deploy resources more effectively and flexibly across its significant work, building more fluid and changeable objectives within the context of the digital transformation, stimulating a strategic dialogue about what did help to deliver better results, building on delivering for consumers, and providing the right framework for continuing on the right path.
The Event “Competition Council: Achievements and Perspectives” (hosted at Radisson Blu Hotel, Bucharest, Atlas 2 Conference Room, and consisting of four sessions – see below the Agenda) was officially opened by the President of the Romanian Competition Council, Bogdan M. Chiriţoiu, who gave the floor to Mr. Costin Borc, Romanian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy, Trade and Business Environment (it is worth mentioning that a discussion took place between Costin Borc and Margrethe Vestager, Member of the European Commission in charge of Competition, on the occasion of a visit to the EC in Brussels, on January 22, 2016). Romanian Deputy Prime Minister congratulated the Romanian Competition Council (RCC) and its President for operational independence and functionality, and shouldering ever-greater responsibilities in the interactions with business environment, partner public institutions (including at the level of the Interministerial Competitiveness Committee), and Civil Society Organizations, protecting and stimulating competition on our market, and ensuring this way the best possible promotion of consumer interests.
Bogdan M. Chiriţoiu thanked the Romanian Deputy Prime Minister for the governmental support and reconfirmed the responsible involvement of the Romanian Competition Authority in a more pro-active enforcement approach (and in prioritizing significant cases in accordance with the potential benefit to Romanian consumers and relevant markets, and continuously focusing on monitoring the key economic sectors and on protecting the competitive environment so as to increase the productivity and the efficiency of the Romanian economy), and – after making a clear and consistent presentation of the RCC Annual Report, and introducing the recorded video message for this Event by European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager – gave the floor to other distinguished speakers (all of them transmitting congratulations to the RCC and its President), who shared their thoughts and ideas on this special occasion:
▪ Eddy de Smijter, Director, European Competition Network Unity, DG Comp, European Commission (who underlined: the significant involvement of RCC at the level of ECN, in discussing competition problems and promoting a common approach, in pooling the experience and identifying best practices; four challenges: enforcement powers – including to collect digital evidence for example, fining powers – which also need to be based on common principles, leniency – programs for both company and individuals, independence and impartiality);
▪ Alina Mungiu Pippidi, President, Romanian Academic Society (who highlighted that: RCC is one of the most active public institutions working towards good government – some thousands votes, within the “Clean Romania” Awards, RCC being a true “Success Exception”; top judicial review may help public administration to improve; according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 Romania ranked as 53, the Global Competitiveness Index/CGI combining 114 indicators grouped into 12 pillars, the first pillar of competitiveness being “Institutions” – the link between “Public institutions”/“ Ethics and corruption”/ “Undue influence” etc. and the 6th pillar, “Goods market efficiency”/“Competition” etc., and the so-called “Crony capitalism”, as expressions of corruption, as unhealthy relations between business and government/the index constructed by “The Economist” in order to test whether the world was experiencing a new era of “robber barons”; tightening antitrust rules is an antidote to corruption);
▪ Daniel Anghel, President, Board of Directors, The Coalition for Romania’s Development (who underlined: the link between such an institution as RCC playing an active role, the socio-economic model and development, impacting accordingly the business and economic climate in Romania by engaging in systemic dialogue; the need of an adequate budget in order to improve the preventive role of RCC, the ex-ante dialogue with investors, the optimization of the investigation procedures etc.).
Allow us within this context to remember that at the end of the above mentioned four sessions, the meeting of the Advisory Board of the Romanian Competition Council took place. This final event was hosted at Radisson Blu Hotel, Merope Conference Room, the meeting proving to be again a pragmatic exchange of views carried out between the members (present at the meeting): Jonathan Scheele, Anca Harasim, Radu Merica, Lucian Croitoru, Mihai Bogza, Florin Pogonaru, Costel Stanciu, Viorel Munteanu, Steven van Groningen, Mihai Berinde, Claudiu Paul Buglea, and Theodor Purcarea.
The technical Secretariat organizing the works of the Advisory Board of the Romanian Competition Council was ensured by Simona Barbu and George Angliţoiu with their already well-known rigor and professionalism.
Throughout the „competition family” it is well-known that the meetings of the Advisory Board of the Romanian Competition Council are a traditional opportunity to share ideas on competition policy and to receive feedback on these ideas and policy visions within the strong commitment of promoting the competition culture in full process of the effective implementation of the competition policy.
Recently, in May 2016, European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, reminded us (Margrethe Vestager – “Check against delivery”, BEUC General Assembly, 13 May 2016) how important competition (the key to making markets work for them) is for consumers – better prices, fairer terms, more innovative products, while making sure consumers have a real choice, consumers’ power to choose being fundamental, including thinking about trying competing products, and this way letting companies competing for them. What presupposes making sure national competition authorities have all the powers they need to enforce competition rules which adequately protect consumers, knowing what problems consumers face, and how they’re affected when companies don’t play by the rules. There is a coincidence between consumers organizations priorities (the European Commission attaches great importance to working closely with consumer organizations as representatives of consumers), and those of competition authorities (energy, digital and financial services markets etc.).