The European Competition Day on 7 May 2015 in Riga, Latvia, served as a platform for the world’s leading competition law experts, representatives of EU competition authorities, Latvian entrepreneurs, representatives of NGOs and national administrative authorities, academics, judges and lawyers focusing on competition law to discuss the best ways of ensuring that competition policy makes the market function to the benefit of consumers and fosters economic growth.
In her opening speech, the European Commissioner for Competition, Ms Margrethe Vestager emphasized the crucial role of cooperation among EU competition authorities and mentioned that, during the first ten years since the entry into force of Council Regulation (EC) 1/2003 in May 2004, of the almost 800 antitrust decisions adopted by members of the ECN, over 650 were taken by national authorities. Ms Vestager also stressed that all competition authorities in the ECN are driven by common values, principles and ultimate goals and called on them to join forces in the fight against anti-competitive behaviour.
The first panel discussion was devoted to the possibilities of ensuring a level playing field between public and privately-owned businesses. The participants discussed the intervention by the state in market activity which has an impact on both companies and competition within the market. The representatives of the national competition authorities of Lithuania and the Netherlands shared their practical experience of implementing a specific regulatory framework which allows regulating entrepreneurial activities of state bodies.
The second panel discussion was devoted to the fight against unlawful agreements between enterprises and the challenges of both defining prohibited agreements and providing evidence of cartel activities. The participants discussed the most up-to-date solutions that set clear rules for businesses and ensure that consumers' interests are protected.
The third panel discussion focussed on the imbalance in market power between large retail chains and small producers and their suppliers. Various situations and several legislative approaches in the different EU Member States were discussed. The participants noted that imbalances also occur in favour of large suppliers in a number of markets. The participants agreed that retail markets require a specific approach, and that these issues should not lose importance on the agenda of competition authorities.
Among the high-level participants were representatives from competition authorities, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) along with leading scholars in the field of competition law.
Conference web-page (video and presentations) available here.