The Romanian Competition Council launched, on April 16, 2015, the “2014 Annual Report”. The special event was hosted at Radisson Blue Hotel. It is well-known that the activity of the Romanian competition authority aims to maintain and to develop a normal competitive environment, generating economic efficiency, with direct benefits to consumers, and increasing the competitiveness of markets. The Romanian Competition Council’s objectives on medium and long term aim at increasing the efficiency and the effectiveness of the Romanian competition policy. The main strategic objectives for the period 2015-2020 are: increasing the impact of actions that ensure an efficient functioning of markets by enhancing the role of economic analysis; increasing the capacity of detection and investigation of cartels; completion of the internal reform process.
According to the President of the Romanian Competition Council, Mr. Bogdan M. Chiriţoiu, the Romanian competition authority has successfully managed all the challenges in 2014, both by using the tools for detecting and sanctioning Competition law infringement, and by proactive actions. The last year, the Romanian Competition Council has completed major investigations (including by applying the leniency policy), the fines applied (of around EUR 41.5 million) proving the strengthening of the sanctioning policy in respect to anticompetitive practices. It is worth mentioning that the Romanian competition authority also applied fines for non-compliance (as it has done, for the first time, in 2014, in the cases involving prepaid mobile phone cards and retransmission rights of football events). The Romanian Competition Council also promoted a new legislative framework on unfair competition (which modernizes specific provisions and the way they are enforced), after a complex process of public consultation, and also changed the State aid national procedures by aligning them to the new Community rules (the Competition Council was appointed in 2014 as board member of the EU Member States working group on implementing the new rules on State aid, and through an European-funded project, started in 2014, is aiming to design, develop and exploit a single interactive database of State aid and de minimis measures in Romania). On the other hand, the Romanian competition authority has obtained for Romania the status of associate in the Competition Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and in partnership with the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, the Ministry of Finance and OECD, started a project aiming at assessing the competitive impact of existing regulations in three sectors with significant share in the GDP: the processing of agricultural products, transports and constructions.
The Romanian Competition Council has confirmed its intention to complete in 2015 some important investigations on possible infringement of competition rules (such as the investigations regarding bid rigging tenders in the milk, energy and IT sectors, the energy sector being also on the priorities list), including the ongoing sector inquiry on the gas market and (while monitoring the liberalization of this relevant market). According to Mr. Bogdan M. Chiriţoiu, in the State aid field the Competition Council will continue to work this year with the Government and the European Commission on the privatization of the Romanian Post, CFR Marfă (national freight company), Oltchim and for the restructuring of the Oltenia Energy Complex and the Hunedoara Energy Complex as well. In terms of legislative initiatives, priorities for 2015 refer to: implementing the OECD project on the assessment and amendment of existing national legislation in order to remove anticompetitive regulations; capping the interchange fees applied to card transactions; changing the Competition Law (activity carried out within the PODCA Project, where the Competition Council benefits from the World Bank assistance), so as to optimize the procedures, to complete investigations faster and to introduce provisions in the conflict of interests.
The Prime Minister of Romania, Victor Ponta, has attended for the third time the presentation of the Annual Report of the Competition Council, and the President of the Romanian Competition Council, Bogdan M. Chiriţoiu, thanked the Prime Minister for the governmental support. Mr. Gert-Jan Koopman, Deputy Director General, State Aid Department, DG Competition, European Commission reconfirmed the importance of competition policy and law (market reforms depending on appropriate competition policy and law, and competition leading to competitiveness), and of controlling State aid which prevents distortions of Common market, avoid subsidy race, and preserve level playing field.
It was our pleasure to see that the “2014 Annual Report” of the Romanian Competition Council proved again the 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.
It is also worth mentioning that a day before the above mentioned special event, on April 15, 2015, the meeting of the Advisory Board of the Romanian Competition Council took place. The event was hosted at Radisson Blue Hotel, Merope Conference Room. As it is well-known throughout the “competition family”, 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. And, as usual, the meeting of April 15, 2015 proved to be a pragmatic exchange of views carried out between, on one hand, the President of the Romanian Competition Council, Bogdan M. Chiriţoiu, Vice President Otilian B. Neagoe, and Dan N. Ionescu, Competition Councillor, and on the other hand, the majority of the Advisory Board of the Romanian Competition Council – Jonathan Scheele, Mihai Berinde, Natalia Roman, Florin Pogonaru, Steven van Groningen, Costel Stanciu, Violeta Alexandru, Viorel Munteanu, 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 known rigor and professionalism.