The government recently announced a phased plan to lift restrictions that were imposed in Croatia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many sectors prepare to resume operations, the Croatian Competition Authority has been fully operational since 11 May 2020.
The government recently lifted the state of emergency which had been declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing normal operations to gradually resume. As a result, all deadlines for the Commission for the Protection of Competition and parties to proceedings that ended between 24 March 2020 and 6 May 2020 are now deemed to end on 5 June 2020. This includes the submission of merger notifications, responses to requests for information, decisions and clearances.
On 17 March 2020 the government declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the state of emergency, Competition Authority operations have continued. However, as office access is not permitted, only postal filings and submissions are accepted (ie, in-person filings are not allowed) and face-to-face meetings cannot be held. For now, the Competition Authority's filing and review deadlines remain unaffected.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition has published its first leniency decision in a cartel case, following a report by one of the cartel participants. The leniency programme was introduced in 2009 but had yet to yield results. The leniency decision is therefore a watershed moment in the programme's development and signals an improvement in the commission's anti-cartel enforcement record.
From 1 January 2020, Serbia will have a new state aid regime under the new Act on State Aid Control. One of the goals of the new act is to harmonise Serbia's state aid legal framework with EU law, which will help to advance the EU accession process and the implementation of Negotiation Chapter 8 – Competition Policy. Until now, market participants have not focused on compliance with the state aid rules, likely due to a lack of awareness and relatively lenient enforcement; this is expected to change under the new act.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina Competition Council will apply new tariffs as from November 2018. Among these, the most significant are the increased merger control clearance fees, which have doubled. The council took inspiration for the new tariffs from those of other regional competition authorities, including the Serbian and Montenegrin commissions.
The Serbian Competition Authority has initiated ex officio antitrust proceedings against Serbia Broadband – Srpske kablovske mreže doo Belgrade on grounds of suspected abuse of dominance. This is the first case in which the authority has initiated abuse of dominance proceedings based on soft behavioural remedy (ie, the obligation to report prices).
The Serbian Competition Authority and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have launched an initiative to establish a regional competition forum. The forum will include all Western Balkan states (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania) and two EU member states (Slovenia and Croatia). The Centre for Liberal-Democratic Studies has been enlisted as a consultant to help design, implement and manage the forum's operations.
The Serbian Competition Authority has increased its dawn raid activity over the past year. Although conducting dawn raids has been a part of the authority's remit since 2009, no such raids were carried out until the end of 2015. To date, the authority has conducted dawn raids in approximately 10 of its proceedings. The majority of these raids were conducted to establish the existence of restrictive agreements.
The most important change introduced by recent amendments to the Competition Act is that a single authority will be responsible for protecting competition and state aid in Montenegro. As a result of Montenegro's accession to the European Union and its obligations under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the State Aid Commission's responsibilities will now fall within the remit of the Competition Agency.
The Competition Authority recently put the draft Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulation forward for public debate. The draft regulation is aligned with the EU Regulation on the Application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to Categories of Technology Transfer Agreements.
The Competition Authority recently intensified its regional cooperation. Representatives of the authority met with colleagues from the Competition Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina and attended conferences organised by the competition authorities of Romania and Croatia. As a further step towards regional cooperation, there is a plan to establish the Competition Forum of the Western Balkans, with the aim of facilitating cooperation, enhancing harmonisation and improving national legislation.
The Competition Council recently took a stand regarding whether a situation in which a food retail company takes over a competitor's business premises and continues the same business activity in those premises constitutes a concentration. The council concluded that such situations should be notified as they are not considered concentrations according to the Competition Act.
The Competition Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina recently set out its objectives and priorities for 2018 in its 2018 Work Programme. One of the council's medium-term objectives is to make market regulation more efficient with the aim of strengthening competition protection. The council has also stressed its dedication to improving its expertise and administrative capacity.
The Competition Authority, together with the Ministry for Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, recently lodged an initiative for the new Competition Act, which will replace the Competition Act 2009. The goal is to harmonise the new act with EU rules while observing the specific demands of the Serbian market. Once the draft is ready, it will be presented for public debate. Further, the authority has issued three draft block regulations for public review and comment.
In September 2017 the Competition Authority officially closed the investigation into the mobile phone retail market which it opened following three complaints regarding alleged coordinated practices and potential abuse of dominant position. The authority issued a number of recommendations and intends to continue to monitor the mobile phone retail market until October 2018.
The Competition Authority recently launched ex officio proceedings to investigate an acquisition of sole control by Prointer IT Solutions and Services doo over Alti doo. The investigation revealed that the concentration had been carried out without merger control clearance, leading the authority to fine Prointer din6.7 million.
The Competition Authority issued 28 merger control clearance decisions in 2016, conducted one dawn raid and implemented no fines. The authority has announced that, with the help of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, it plans to purchase forensic software and technical equipment in 2018 which will allow it to continue its investigation activities.
The Competition Authority recently initiated an investigation into the mobile phone market in connection with alleged coordinated practices and potential abuse of the dominant position of the market players. It had been alleged that three telecommunications operators had coordinated a change in standard pre-paid packages.
In 2016 the Competition Authority issued 52 decisions relating to merger control, abuse of dominance and restrictive practices. No fines were imposed in any of the decisions. The authority also reviewed and commented on numerous legislation proposals, including the production and marketing of tobacco and cigarettes and airport fees.
During 2016 the Competition Authority issued 111 merger control decisions. Most of the notifying parties involved were foreign companies, while notifications filed by domestic companies made up approximately 24% of all filed notifications. The Competition Authority, which proved to be one of the busiest in the region, also conducted a number of sector inquiries.
The process for appointing new Competition Council members is now complete and operational. Specific and complex rules exist for the composition of the council and for it to pass decisions. Among other things, there must be two members representing each of the three constituent ethnic groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ie, two Serbs, two Bosnians and two Croatians).
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently determined that two breweries were engaged in resale price maintenance. The breweries had entered into agreements that contained price-fixing provisions and distributors were allegedly restricted from independently determining resale prices.
The Competition Authority recently determined that two edible sunflower oil market competitors (Vital and Victoriaoil) had concluded a restrictive agreement that limited the production of edible oil and inhibited competition on the market. The authority imposed a fine of 0.33% of the total annual turnover generated in 2014 on the Serbian market. This was the first production cooperation agreement analysed by the authority.
In 2016 the Competition Authority received 33 merger control notifications and issued 28 decisions. Most of the concentrations were in the telecommunications, media and pharmaceutical sectors. There was a slight decrease of approximately 6% in the number of merger control notifications submitted in 2016 in comparison to 2015.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition was the 2017 recipient of an honourable mention at the 2016-2017 Competition Advocacy Contest: Innovative Advocacy Strategies to Address Market Challenges. The article which brought the commission this recognition deals with implementing competition advocacy in government policymaking.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently adopted a decision to conduct a retail market study. The study will help to determine the relations between competitors on the retail market at the local, regional and national level. The study is also designed to encompass the wholesale market. The market study results will enable the commission to conduct an ex post assessment of the major concentrations that were carried out in the previous period.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition conditionally cleared the concentration brought about by Serbia Broadband's acquisition of Interaktivne kablovske objedinjene mreže. During the investigation, the commission obtained all of the necessary data, information and opinions on the effects of the concentration from the parties' competitors, broadcasters and independent regulatory bodies responsible for the data relevant to the proceedings.
The Competition Authority recently conducted a dawn raid at the premises of Sava Trans doo in Cetinje to collect the data required for it to proceed with a case. Throughout the raid, authority officials acted in compliance with legislation and Sava Trans maintained a high level of cooperation.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently announced that after 10 years in operation, it believes that it is time to introduce changes to its existing practice of issuing opinions on request by market participants. The commission will now focus on matters relevant to the implementation of regulations that either were never explored or require additional clarification due to the changes that have since occurred.
The Competition Council's main activities in 2016 included issuing opinions and conducting proceedings pursuant to requests filed by undertakings or ex officio. A total of 50% of the cases filed were processed in 2016, while the remaining cases have been carried over to 2017. The council's total income from administrative fees in 2016 was KM234,574 (approximately €115,000), while collected fines reached KM624,492 (approximately €610,000).
The Competition Commission recently conducted a competition assessment of the Serbian insurance market between 2012 and 2015. The main objective of the assessment is to determine the market structure and the relationships between the largest competitors, as well as to detect market weaknesses that may ultimately result in competition infringement.
The president of the Competition Commission, Miloje Obradović, recently spoke at the Sub-committee on Internal Market and Competition meeting. He briefed the European Commission on all of the activities undertaken to implement the Competition Act and on the level of harmonisation of Serbian competition legislation with the acquis communautaire. Obradović emphasised that future sectoral analyses will focus on the markets that have caught the commission's attention in the past.
The Competition Commission recently issued a decision determining that Bora Kečić and Large Transport had engaged in bid rigging in a public tender procedure launched by public utility company Elektromreže Srbije. By entering into a restrictive agreement, these undertakings significantly restricted and distorted competition. The commission issued fines of approximately €8,000 per company.
The Competition Commission recently issued a decision determining that EPS Distribucija doo Beograd – the only operator on the Serbian electricity distribution market – abused its dominant position. The company was fined €3 million and issued with behavioural remedies aimed at creating equal conditions for doing business on the market. The commission took into account EPS Distribucija's cooperation during the proceedings.
The Foreign Investors Council recently presented the 2016 edition of the White Book – an overview of the traditional business climate in Serbia and recommendations for its improvement. The document notes considerable progress in the work of the Commission for the Protection of Competition. Key improvements include the adoption of the new Merger Notification Decree and the provision of information on the commission's work.
The Competition Authority intends to conduct a competition assessment on the retail market, focusing on non-specialised stores selling mainly food, beverages and tobacco. In the past 10 years in Serbia, there has been significant consolidation of the food retail and distribution market, which has affected the commercial relationship between retailers and their suppliers. The assessment should contribute to a better understanding of this relationship and its possible effects on competition.
The Competition Protection Agency recently adopted its 2017 Financial Plan, which includes strengthening administrative capacity, conducting dawn raids and preventing competition infringement. Further, the European Commission determined in its annual report that there is a need for the agency to strengthen its administrative capacity and issued a recommendation for the agency to increase the number of its employees.
A Technical Assistance and Information Exchange regional workshop on the enhancement of cooperation between Western Balkan competition authorities was recently held in Podgorica, Montenegro.The Montenegrin Competition Agency director noted that it is necessary to ensure a uniform competition law approach in the Western Balkans, mainly in order to help both foreign and regional investors feel protected against actions that could put the equality of all market participants at risk.
The Competition Authority recently published the Aftermarkets Analysis, which covers warranties, repair services and the sale and use of spare parts for automotive and household appliance industries. The aim of the analysis was to determine the market structure and the relationship between leading undertakings in order to detect any shortcomings in the market. The results will be used to draft a decree on group exemption from the prohibition of vertical agreements in the motor vehicle sector.
The Competition Council aims to improve its quality system in order to comply with EU legislation and enhance competition law enforcement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The council's recently published work programme outlines its objectives and priorities for 2017 and ensures its transparency for business and expert communities. The council has stressed that certain issues may arise in the implementation of the work programme, which may affect relevant tasks and activities.
The Competition Authority recently introduced a number of new bylaws. The bylaws aim to regulate short-form procedures on the assessment of concentrations, commitment procedures and the administration of electronic data during Competition Authority inspections.
The Competition Authority recently carried out a dawn raid at the premises of N Sport and acquired copies of agreements that the company had entered into with its customers. The agreements contained provisions obliging customers and retailers to comply with minimum retail prices set by N Sport when reselling their products. The concerned undertakings are at risk of severe fines of up to 10% of the total turnover generated in 2015, while the agreements could be declared null and void.
During 2015 the Competition Authority issued 68 decisions concerning merger control, the abuse of dominant positions and state aid and 32 opinions concerning competition law and state aid law. Further, the authority issued a number of significant fines in decisions relating to cartels and the abuse of dominant positions. Taking into account the available human and financial resources, the authority is satisfied with the results achieved in 2015.
The Competition Authority recently adopted a decision conditionally clearing an acquisition in the sugar market in Serbia. As the resulting market share aggregation in the affected markets ranges from 60% to 80%, the Competition Authority recommended the introduction of operational requirements and restrictions to prevent any negative effects resulting from market saturation.
The Competition Authority recently initiated ex officio proceedings against MIKA KORÇA JSC. MIKA KORÇA holds a dominant position on the tobacco market as the sole Albanian company exporting tobacco products and the only purchaser of tobacco from farmers. The authority has established that the prices at which farmers sell tobacco does not cover their high production costs, and that the average price paid by MIKA KORÇA is lower than the average price paid in the European Union.
After three years of hiccups, Competition Authority members have been selected and are ready to assume their positions and begin work. Due to the lack of a decision-making body, no decisions have been issued or investigations conducted by the authority since 2013. The authority is one of the youngest of its kind in the region and thus has a significant lack of practice providing guidance on how competition rules should be implemented.
The Competition Authority recently published a statement clarifying the rules on submitting a merger notification based on the serious intent to implement a transaction (eg, a letter of intent). The authority pointed out that, when notifying a concentration on the basis of serious intent, the undertakings concerned assume the risk of any consequence that may result. If a letter of intent differs from the final agreement entered into by the parties following the authority's decision, they risk incurring a fine.
From 2014 to 2016 the Competition Authority was part of a project sponsored by the European Commission concerning the alignment of competition legislation in Montenegro with EU standards. The project results show that competition policy improved significantly between 2014 and 2016, and that increased court support with the implementation of fines will be introduced to aid further development.
In 2015 the Competition Authority issued 51 decisions addressing, among other things, restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance. Of 50 complaints submitted that year, 22 related to the electronic communications market. The authority often faces delays in court proceedings and 2015 was no exception, with six commission decisions appealed before the court.
The Competition Commission has adopted new guidelines on a simplified form and procedure for assessing merger notifications for transactions which raise no competition concerns. In order to increase transparency, on receipt of notification the commission will publish the basic information regarding the concentration on its official website. This will allow interested parties to submit their comments and observations.
The Competition Authority recently investigated alleged abuse of dominance in the railway traffic market by state-owned railway company Zelezice Srbije. The authority determined that Zelezice Srbije was the only company operating railway traffic in the country and thus took measures to secure the establishment of effective competition in the market for access to public railway infrastructure.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently hosted several competition events, demonstrating its determination to cooperate with other competition authorities. So far this year, commission representatives took part in the Eighth Sofia Competition Forum, visited the Romanian Competition Authority and co-organised an international conference on institution building between the national competition authorities of Southeast Europe.
The Competition Authority recently adopted the Fine Leniency Programme, which elaborates on the leniency rules set out in the Competition Law. The programme details the procedure for applying for and granting leniency for the full or partial reduction of fines. The programme explains that any undertaking which initiates a cartel cannot benefit from the leniency proceedings.
The Competition Authority recently published its 2014 annual report, revealing that in 2014 a total of 25 decisions were rendered. Four of the decisions concerned joint ventures and the rest were about the acquisition of control. Notably for participants in foreign-to-foreign transactions, only six notifications concerned the Montenegrin market, while 19 notified transactions were classified as extraterritorial.
The Competition Authority recently conducted a dawn raid on the Belgrade premises of Philip Morris and British American Tobacco on the suspicion that competition infringement had occurred. The authority also initiated ex officio procedures, as it suspected that the companies had conspired in order to align prices. This is the authority's second dawn raid involving the tobacco market.
The Competition Authority recently investigated four companies for bid rigging in a tender organised by the Ministry of Defence for the procurement of uniforms and shoes in 2013. It fined them a total of approximately €300,000 and prohibited them from participating as bidders in public procurement for the next 18 months.
The Competition Authority recently adopted new guidelines on merger control conditions and obligations intended to comply with EU regulations. The authority also recently approved a concentration in the financial leasing market and announced an investigation into the banking sector to assess whether competition is being limited or distorted as a result of the behaviour of one or more banks.
The Competition Authority is investigating Telemach ad Podgorica's intended acquisition of M-Kabl doo Montenegro. It has established that both parties are competitors in at least seven municipalities within Montenegro and that the market is already extremely concentrated.
The Competition Authority recently launched several competition law infringement investigations, including an investigation against Belgrade's public utility company Infostan. Without having consulted the service receivers, Infostan included costs for insurance in a monthly invoice. Accordingly, the authority began an investigation, alleging that Infostan had abused its dominant position.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently published its 2014 annual report, in which it outlines the developments of the previous year. The commission issued 41 decisions in administrative proceedings, four opinions under the Competition Act and 19 opinions under the State Aid Control Act. It also decided 10 cases in misdemeanour proceedings and imposed fines totalling Md233,530,047.
The Competition Authority has cleared leading pharmaceutical company Hemofarm's acquisition of family business Ivančić i sinovi, even though Hemofarm is expected to slightly increase its market share. The authority has also cleared Antenna Stream TV Limited Kipar's acquisition of Lake Blade Holding; both parties operate in the media market.
The competition authorities of Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia have signed a protocol on cooperation in the protection of competition. The protocol was signed in Montenegro based on the initiative of the Montenegrin Competition Authority. Given that the market structure in numerous commercial sectors is becoming more regional in scope, the authorities recognised the need to increase cooperation and assist in respective proceedings.
The Commission for Protection of Competition recently issued two decisions in proceedings against East Media Group (EMG) because of a reasonable assumption that a transaction had been implemented without obtaining merger control clearance. The commission fined EMG for failure to comply with its order to deliver the data and documentation required for the transaction's assessment.
In a decision that could have significant implications on future practice, the Competition Authority recently reviewed non-compete obligations between parties to a merger. The concentration was cleared unconditionally. However, the non-compete obligations were considered to be severe restrictions of competition and the authority refused individual exemptions.
The Commission for Protection of Competition has recently issued two conditional merger clearances concerning international transactions. The Holcim and Lafarge transaction resulted in a significant overlap between the parties' activities in the Serbian cement market, while the transaction between Alitalia and Etihad Airways involved the acquisition of joint control over a newly founded company that would control Alitalia's aviation business.
The Agency for the Protection of Competition has adopted a notice addressing the protection of confidential data in competition law proceedings. The agency identified three categories which can be classed as confidential information, including trade secrets, data unavailable to the general public and other data whose publication could cause irreparable damage.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition has introduced a settlement proposal to the proceeding for determining a competition law violation. Undertakings against which proceedings are initiated can submit a settlement proposal only once the commission has issued a statement of objections. The commission is under no obligation to accept the settlement proposal.
The Commission for Protection of Competition recently decided to open an ex officio investigation against the Bar Association due to allegations that it had violated competition law rules on the legal services market in Serbia. The commission found that prescribing high fees for admission to the Bar directly restricts competition and creates unjustified market entry barriers.
During 2014 the Agency for the Protection of Competition has concentrated its activities on investigations into restrictive agreements and has imposed measures on the four publishers of Montenegro's largest daily newspapers for participating in a price-fixing cartel. It is yet to be seen whether and to what extent the cartel's participants will be fined, but the fine may be up to 10% of the participants' annual turnover.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition has recently experienced a slight drop in activities. Between May and August 2014 the commission rendered five merger clearances and imposed two fines in misdemeanour proceedings. Moreover, recently enacted amendments to the Competition Act further prescribe the procedures for the appointment of the commission's professional staff.
The Competition Council recently fined the Brčko Health Insurance Fund KM16,000 for restricting competition in the medicines supply market and the Federal Ministry of Health KM29,000 for restricting competition in the market for medical examinations of persons before and during employment.
Amendments to the Competition Act have introduced some significant changes in competition policy, focusing primarily on merger control. The changes include the lowering of the worldwide jurisdictional threshold for a mandatory merger filing and the introduction of a fine for responsible individuals in an infringing company.
The Competition Council has published its 2013 annual report and 2014 programme. The number of cases reviewed was 62.5% higher in 2013 than in 2012. It is clear that the council is facing an increased workload as a result of the liberalisation of markets which are becoming attractive for foreign investments. During 2014 the council intends to increase cooperation with competition bodies around Europe.
The government has adopted four implementing regulations in accordance with the Protection of Competition Act. The regulations will allow economic operators doing business in Montenegro to assess independently the fulfilment of the requirements for group exemption of specific horizontal and vertical agreements. Parties to an agreement can apply for an individual exemption.
On its annual 'competition day' the Commission for Protection of Competition held a round table on competition infringement in public procurement. It was concluded that Serbia must continue to improve the administrative capacities of the competent organisations and standardise its procedures. All public procurement authorities must cooperate, especially regarding the disclosure, prosecution and penalising of bid rigging.
The Competition Council recently fined Apatinska pivara for abuse of dominance. Proceedings were launched pursuant to the request filed by one of Apatinska pivara' distributors. Dejan Komerc claimed that Apatinska pivara violated competition rules by applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with different distributors. The council concluded that Apatinska pivara had abused its dominant position.
The Competition Council recently fined Coca-Cola and two other undertakings for breaching a notification deadline and implementing a transaction without obtaining council clearance. The parties jointly submitted the merger notification, but it was submitted with a two-year delay. The council finally cleared the concentration and found no negative effects on competition.
The Commission for Protection of Competition issued the Rules of Procedure, aimed at regulating the commission's decision-making sessions. The rules set out that meetings are to be convened as needed by the president of the commission or on written request by at least three commission members. Voting is always public and the commission adopts its decisions by a majority vote of all members.
Amendments to the Competition Act recently entered into force and aim to enhance and refine certain substantive and procedural aspects of Serbia's competition regime, as well as to strengthen the powers and institutional capacity of the Competition Authority. Some of these amendments are expected to have material effects on undertakings whose business is affected by competition law in any way.
The Competition Authority recently published a notice underlining the importance of compliance with merger filing obligations. The notice sends a clear message that failure to comply with the merger filing obligations will be considered as a serious infringement. It is a public warning to all market participants that the authority intends to implement the Competition Act consistently.
The Competition Authority recently opened three investigations ex officio. One proceeding concerns the daily newspaper market, while the other two concern the telecommunications market. Since the new Competition Act was adopted in 2012, the authority has increased its activities significantly – particularly investigations.
The Competition Authority recently adopted four bylaws, including the Guidelines on Access to Information and the Code of Ethics. The guidelines lay down instructions for market participants on how to access and review information possessed by the authority, while the code sets out major ethical principles under which authority employees must fulfil their professional duties.
The Competition Authority has recently published two new bylaws concerning merger control. The Guidelines on Concentrations were published in order to promote a better understanding of the issues relating to concentrations of undertakings on the market, while the Instructions on the Manner of Submitting Merger Notifications concern the content and form of merger notifications.
The Competition Authority recently fined the Republic of Srpska Health Insurance Fund for concluding restrictive agreements with 150 pharmacies. The authority took a stand that this kind of condition represents a supplementary obligation that has no connection whatsoever with the respective agreement and prevented free access to the market for pharmacies.
The Competition Authority recently fined the Composers' Association for an abuse of dominance. The authority found that it had abused its dominant position by imposing unfair prices, applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent agreements with different parties and imposing supplementary obligations with no connection to the subject of the collective agreement on the use of music works by way of broadcasting.
The Supreme Court has confirmed the Competition Authority's decision in a case where two companies had abused their dominance by insisting on non-negotiable exclusivity and fidelity clauses in their agreements concluded with 24 banks. The Competition Authority took a stand that consumers suffered harm due to supra-competitive pricing. The authority ordered amendments to the contracts and removal of the disputed clauses.
The Competition Authority recently approved a concentration on the Bosnian dairy product market by means of an acquisition of control by Besnier SA, France over Ljubljanske mlekarne dd, Slovenia. Both participants in the concentration are present on the Bosnian market through their subsidiaries. The authority also imposed a fine on Besnier for filing the notification after the statutory time limit.
The Competition Authority recently held a conference on the current state of competition in Serbia, announcing certain changes to the Competition Act, including a new method for determining an undertaking's dominant position on the relevant market. A public debate followed the conference. Comments and suggestions from the public debate will be analysed by the Ministry of Foreign and Internal Trade and Telecommunications.
Since the beginning of 2013 the Competition Authority has witnessed a slump in its workload. During the first quarter of 2013 the authority issued four decisions and published two news items, concerning Competition Authority staff participation at international conferences.
In March and April 2013 the Competition Authority published a set of new bylaws. The bylaws include guidelines on the content and manner of submitting individual exemption applications. Introduction of the Tariff Code will see the authority charge fees for the first time since its establishment in 2006.
The Competition Authority has released a statement on an Administrative Court decision which imposed a €3 million fine on Frikom for abuse of a dominant position in the wholesale ice-cream market. The infringements included resale price maintenance in supply agreements and tying retailers and customers to purchase from the Frikom product range only. Frikom's appeal of the fine was rejected.
The Competition Authority recently published the results of its sector analysis of the petroleum derivatives markets in Serbia in 2011. The analysis concerns the production, import, export, storage, trade, wholesale and retail of petroleum and petroleum derivatives, as well as various price trend analyses. The authority concluded that there are signs of stronger price competition than in the previous three-year period.
The Competition Authority recently cleared a second attempt at a takeover of Hellenic Sugar Industry SA by Sunoko doo, subject to structural and behavioural measures. The authority claimed its shift in view was due to a change in market conditions. The decision represents the authority's most detailed attempt to conditionally approve a takeover which raises serious competition concerns.
The new Competition Act recently came into force. Among other things, it stipulates that the enforcement of competition rules will be within the competencies of the Agency for Protection of Competition. The change represents a harmonisation with Montenegrin administrative law rules. To complement the act, new bylaws are set to be adopted in the first half of 2013.
The High Administrative Court of Macedonia recently confirmed that Macedonian Telekom had abused its dominant position by imposing excessive prices for the lease of digital lines. Macedonian Telecom did not have separate pricing for the lease of lines to its final consumers and wholesalers, which was considered an act of abuse. The procedure was concluded in this final ruling after six years of proceedings.
The recently created Energy Community Competition Network is intended to facilitate the consistent application and enforcement of EU competition law to the electricity, gas and oil sectors within the contracting parties and regional markets. The network will serve as a platform for promoting discussion and developing best practices among the public institutions participating in the network.
The Competition Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina recently fined a number of Bosnian banks for abuse of their dominant market position. The abuse occurred when the banks entered into restrictive exclusivity clauses in agreements with Western Union Network (France) SAS. The banks were fined over €1.2 million in total.
The Commission for Protection of Competition recently issued an opinion on public procurement and consortium agreements between competitors in tendering and public procurement procedures. The commission views consortium agreements as restrictive agreements, which therefore must be submitted to the commission for an individual exemption.
The government has adopted two ordinances regulating certain aspects of the national state aid regime. The first ordinance regulates the manner and procedure for submitting state aid notifications, assessing the compatibility of aid with state aid rules and monitoring existing aid, while the second regulates the conditions and procedure under which de minimis aid may be granted.