ECN Brief

Spain | CNMC Conference: "Trends in Institutional Design of Competition and Regulatory Authorities"

Spain | CNMC Conference: "Trends in Institutional Design of Competition and Regulatory Authorities"

The CNMC (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia) held on Thursday 12 February the conference "Trends in the institutional design of Competition and Regulation Authorities". During the sessions, international experts discussed the challenge of merging into one body competition authority with sectoral regulators, as recently demonstrated by the mergers carried out in the Netherlands, Spain, Australia or New Zealand.

Mr. Frédéric Jenny, Co-Director of the European Center for Law and Economics and Chairman of the OECD Competition Law and Policy Committee, referred to Spain and the Netherlands as examples of integrated regulators, a trend that began to emerge in Europe. According to him, the design of an integrated regulator depends on the functions assigned to this body and the leeway given to this body in order to enable it to draw up the laws that define its activity. Mr Jenny stressed the importance of the independence of such new authorities.

Mr. William E. Kovacic, Director of the Competition Law Center of George Washington University and former Chairman at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US, stressed the need for structures and defining an identity of the new bodies, so that their objectives are clearly set out, a task that is not easy to integrate with the goals set for existing agencies, which do not always coincide.

Moreover, according to him, new agencies could be equipped with more economic resources and personnel. However, it is important to manage the allocation of the new resources since this could result in an accumulation of new powers on the one hand, while, at the same time, it may also lead to a loss of identity and efficiency for the new agencies. During his speech, Mr. Chris Fonteijn, President of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), explained that rather than setting up new structures in a newly-created regulatory body, it is fundamental to have flexibility within an organization as well as a dynamic mentality so they experience can be shared between teams.

Meanwhile, Ms María Ortiz, CNMC’ Board Member, explained that, for a proper internal functioning of the CNMC, which was created in October 2013, it was essential to have the highest level of qualification of technical equipment and a merger of the experience acquired in various fields. She also shared the difficulty to integrate different types of personnel (civil servants and employees) in the new structure.

Mr. Eduardo Prieto, CNMC’s Competition Director, said that the new CNMC structure promotes the analysis of competition issues in regulated markets on the basis of all the information and knowledge acquired by sectorial regulators.

Further information on the conference available here.

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