Conference on Current Trends in Competition was held on 25 October 2017

On 25 October 2017 the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic in cooperation with the Faculty of National Economy of the University of Economics in Bratislava organized a conference titled Current Trends in Competition.

The conference was held at the University of Economics in Bratislava and it was opened by the Rector of the University - Ferdinand Daňo and Vice-Chairman of the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic - Boris Gregor. The Rector stated during his opening speech that the conference was one of the first joint activities of the University and the Office since the conclusion of a memorandum on mutual cooperation in the field of competition and he stressed that it was the evidence that they wanted to fulfil its aims together by particular activities and similar common outcomes. The Office´s Vice-Chairman expressed his conviction that following the signing of a memorandum between the university and the Office, as well as the cooperation agreements between the Office and the Faculty of National Economy and the Faculty of Economic Informatics of the University of Economics in Bratislava, the fulfilment of the defined aims would continue as intensively and with such determination as during the preparation of the event. At the same time, he expressed his supposition that thanks to the significant guests and participants of the conference, the knowledge and experience related to selected current competition issues would contribute not only to the development of general awareness but also to their solution.
In the introductory panel discussion, Mikuláš Luptáčik, the Dean of the Faculty of National Economy of the University of Economics in Bratislava, welcomed Gerhard Clemenz, the Professor at the University of Vienna, who presented the economic approach to the theory of harms and its practical application to the cases of vertical restrictions. Then they discussed the benefits and weaknesses of applying the economic approach in individual cases of the breach of competition rules. At the same time, he explained in which fields the use of economic analysis is beneficial and when, on the contrary, it poses a great burden for competition authorities.

The use of the evidence obtained in other proceedings, especially criminal ones was the main topic of another panel discussion of Mrs. Ida Hanzelová – the former judge of the Supreme Court of the SR, the representatives of competition authorities in the Netherlands - Kevin Hendriks, in the Czech Republic - Igor Pospíšil, and in Slovakia - Zuzana Šabová and Michaela Nosa. They presented the experience of the competition authorities with the cooperation with other state authorities and also the cases that had been solved so far. The discussion showed that such a transfer of evidence is necessary, while in some jurisdictions it is permissible, even in cases where it is the use of evidence that a competition body of an administrative type could not provide itself by its own investigative competences, such as for instance voice monitoring. The proof of this is successfully defended decisions at courts in the Netherlands. The panellists also dealt with the question of how to set up a qualite cooperation between competition authorities and other investigative bodies, which is important to enable the competition authorities to get the information they can use for their own investigation in a timely manner. They agreed that the substantive quality and conviction of the justification of decision and the fair trial guarantee given to the investigative parties is essential from the point of view of a judicial review, and the arguments of the competition body may be different in relation to the type of evidence used and the way in which it is obtained.

During a further panel discussion on the degree of regulation in individual sectors and the evaluation of introducing competition principle into selected sectors, Mikuláš Luptáčik introduced Per Joakim Agrell, a Professor at Louvain School of Management, and Klaus Gugler, a Professor at Vienna University of Economics and Business. Per Joakim Agrell explained introducing the elements of competition into regulated industries and that, in addition to traditional regulatory approaches, there are new forms of introducing competition principles into markets that require state regulation. He also dealt with how well-set competition rules can lead to increased social welfare and better functioning of individual markets. Klaus Gugler contributed to the discussion by presenting various forms of regulation of network industries in the European Union, various types of regulation and their effects to motivation to investing into innovation.
A new approach to setting notification criteria for mergers notifications, particularly with regard to startup companies and the specificities of particular sectors of the economy, was the theme of the last panel discussion at the conference. Its aim was not only to comprehensively encompass the given issue, but also to name possible shortcomings and problems from the view of entrepreneurial and advocacy community and to outline the possible solutions. Firstly, the representative of the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic, Erika Lovásová, presented the current system of notification criteria, also an alternative notification criterion considered at the level of European legislation as well as the reasons for the changes. The representative of advocacy community, Zuzana Hodoňová from the lawyer office Kinstellar, compared various systems of notification criteria in the world, outlined advantages and disadvantages from the point of view of merging undertakings, and also dealt with the European Commission's reflections on the concrete form of the alternative notification criterion, especially in the view of the lack of legal certainty that would be changed by the system. The representative of Austrian competition office, Daniela Trampert - Paparella, explained the change in notification criteria at national level. Into system in Austria it introduced an alternative, additional notification criterion based on the transaction value and the presence of the entity in the country. Finally, Vítezslav Burda from the company Teva Pharmaceuticals, a representative of the entrepreneurial community, concerned with the fact whether the change of notification criteria is needed, which he argued by sufficient coverage of mergers in the area by the current control system.
Two workshops were held during the conference, too.
  1. The workshop titled State Aid is not a problem, but a new solution was led by the director of the Division of State Aid of the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic - Soňa Drobová and the representatives of the division - Stanislava Krajčírová, Ivana Šivecová and Martina Vencelová. Firstly, Soňa Drobová introduced the State Aid Act according to which from 1 January 2016 the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic became an aid coordinator, explained its competence and tasks in the field of state aid and clarified activities raising awareness of the rules on granting state aid and de minimis aid. Then they focused the attention on the basic concepts and principles used in the field, but also on a block exemption regulation which allows Member States to grant aid without prior authorization by the European Commission - on general conditions for granting aid as well as specific conditions for individual aid purposes. In the last part of the workshop, the participants were informed of two selected decisions of the European Commission which were adopted in 2017, for the benefit of the Slovak Republic, namely the decision on the sale of the building of the former healthcare centre in Turzovka and on the National Football Stadium.
  2. The workshop on news about the activities of the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic was opened by its Vice-Chairman, Boris Gregor, who informed the present public on the development of the Office's activities in particular fields of competition protection during the last period. Subsequently, the Office´s representatives - Silvia Šramelová, Zuzana Šabová and Andrea Antolíková acquainted the professional public with the forthcoming revision of the Methodological guideline on the procedure for setting fines in the cases of abuse of dominant position and agreements restricting competition (available in Slovak). They presented the fundamental changes and provisions to be reviewed. At the same time, they opened public consultation on the revision of the methodological guideline and asked the professional public to submit their comments to it.
At the end, thanks to all participants at the conference held on current trends in competition were expressed by Tibor Menyhart, the Chairman of the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic.


Conference Agenda

Introduction of speakers

Speakers´ presentations
Last update:22.05.2018