The Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic (hereafter "AMO") organised its annual “Current Trends in Competition Law” conference on 4 October 2023. The event took place in the newly renovated building of the Slovak National Gallery, the cinema hall of which was filled to the brim with experts and eager guests from various institutions both in Slovakia and abroad.
The Chairman of the AMO, Juraj Beňa, for whom this was the first conference in this position, welcomed the guests. Beňa presented his vision of the AMO’s functioning in the coming years. His overall aim is to transform the AMO into a modern, respected and well-reputated institution. The conference was a great kick-off to that plan.
The keynote speech was held by Olivier Guersent, Director General from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, who stayed on stage for the first panel as well. The main topic of the panel was the role of competition authorities in times of high inflation. The discussion and experience-sharing by three representatives of national competition authorities: Natalie Harsdorf-Borsch from Austria, Kamil Nejezchleb from the Czech Republic, and our very own Juraj Beňa, with remarks from Olivier Guersent, was intriguing to listen to. The main conclusion is that while competition authorities do have influence on competition, it is not competition per se that is the cause of today’s high inflation; therefore, the ability of competition authorities to fight inflation is limited.
The second panel focused on the increasingly prominent topic of the DMA (Digital Markets Act). The panel introduced the DMA in a very easy-to-understand manner, well illustrated with practical examples that the whole audience could easily relate to. The panelist, Lucia Bónová, Head of Unit of Digital Platforms of the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission; Viktoria H.S.E. Robertson, Head of Competition Law and Digitalization Group of Vienna University of Economics and Business; and Radek Hanák, Legal Director and Data Protection Officer of Heureka Group, also discussed legislative issues and stakeholder’s expectations. Michaela Nosa, Director of Legislative, Legal and Foreign Relations Division of the AMO moderated the discussion and presented the viewpoint of the AMO, which is the responsible authority for DMA in Slovakia. This issue will become prevalent prominent in the coming months and years, and it was extremely useful for the audience to have such a detailed and interesting introduction to the topic.
The main topic of the last panel was the bidder exclusion effect and sanctions for the violation of competition rules. Ori Schwartz, Head of Competition Division at the OECD, and Radoslav Šály, Advisor to the President of the Association of Construction Entrepreneurs of Slovakia, spoke about the pros and cons of the effect, potential risks of its use and also presented some of their own ideas for its future use and improvement.The panel was moderated by Daniela Lukáčová, Head of the Department of Second-Instance Proceedings of the AMO, who also expressed the position of the AMO.The topic brought about a lively discussion and a number of questions from the audience.
The concluding remarks were presented by the Deputy Chairman of the AMO Peter Demčák, who thanked the audience, reiterated the Chairman’s earlier words about the future direction of the AMO, and also expressed his wish and will to fulfill them as soon as possible.
The conference was overall a big success and a great platform for knowledge and experience sharing. We are already looking forward to its 2024 edition.