ECN Brief

Romania | Review of the competition legal framework

Romania | Review of the competition legal framework

The Romanian Competition Law has been amended by Law no. 347/2015, published on 29 December 2015. The current provisions complete the set of amendments introduced in June last year, on relevant issues such as anticompetitive practices, settlement procedure, mergers, complaints, inspections, procedure of conducting investigations, access to file, limitation period for antitrust fines, organization and functioning of the institution which ensure the effective enforcement of national and EU competition rules. We recall that on 30 June 2015, the Government approved a series of amendments to the Competition Law, aiming to optimize the activity of the Romanian Competition Council and simplify the administrative procedures.

In the field of assistance in inspections conducted under Article 22 (1) of Regulation (EC) no. 1/2003, the officials as well as persons authorised by the requesting NCA may assist, cooperate or even participate in the inspections conducted by the Competition Council on behalf and for the account of the NCA of another Member State. This mention derives from the ECN Recommendation on Assistance in Inspections conducted under Article 22 (1) of Regulation (EC) no. 1/2003.

For the purpose of applying Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, the Competition Council may send confidential information to the European Commission or NCAs of the Member States, in accordance with Article 12 of Regulation (EC) no. 1/2003, if the receiving NCA uses the information only to enforce competition rules in respect of the subject matter for which this information was collected. In addition, confidential information sent in accordance with provisions of Article 12 shall be protected from disclosure and sent to third parties only with the preliminary agreement of the Competition Council.

With regard to national competition rules, the provisions of Articles 5 and 6 of the law mirror Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. The previous wording exemplified certain practices which were removed to avoid any exhaustive interpretation of the competition law.

The current framework also provides for the concept of whistle blowers, whose identity is protected. In case of interviewed persons, it is mentioned that misleading or inaccurate information conveyed during interviews can now be sanctioned. Interviews can be conducted by any means, including electronic means, recorded audio-video and laid down in a record of this interview signed by all participants.

With regard to settlements, if parties enter the procedure before the communication of the report of the investigation (which describes the alleged infringement), the Competition Council may apply a simplified procedure, according to the guidelines.

In addition, in investigations opened based on complaint, the complainant cannot anymore oblige the competition authority to organize hearings of the parties, if there is no sufficient ground to continue the proceedings. In such situation, the case is closed by decision, after the complainant is given the possibility to present an opinion. Moreover, the period of assessment changed from 60 calendar days to 60 working days.

With a view to conducting dawn raids, the current framework depicts the steps to be taken when the communication cannot be done directly to the legal representative or, in case of absence, to any employee. Communication is possible also via fax or email to insure the transmission of the investigation order and the court warrant, with confirmation of receiving. 

Moreover, reference is made to regulate the suspension of the limitation period. The suspension applies in case the antitrust decisions are reviewed by the courts, the limitation period being suspended on this duration.

In terms of independence and staff resources policy, the competition law provides for the obligation of the staff to notify the Competition Council after leaving the institution in a period of 3 years, if the activity developed by a former civil servant is conducted in an adjacent field. Based on its legitimate interests, the competition authority will communicate an opinion, either favourable or negative. If negative, the former staff member will be obliged to refrain from performing such activity. These provisions also apply to members of the Board.

The amended competition law can be consulted here

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