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Competition & Antitrust
Owing to the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government adopted the Regulation on the Implementation of the Administrative Proceedings Act During the State of Emergency, which affected the timeline of proceedings before the North Macedonian Competition Authority (NMCA). This article outlines the regulation's practical implications for the NMCA's operations.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 Competition Authority recently found that two drug wholesalers had submitted bids with prices that were identical up to two decimal places for the generic drugs Etoposide and Docetaxel. The authority held that the wholesalers' behaviour constituted a concerted practice and imposed fines.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition has adopted the Guidelines for Issuing Phase I Clearances. The commission's goal is to make the merger control procedure more efficient. If the commission determines that a concentration meets the criteria set out in the guidelines, it will usually issue a Phase I decision within 25 business days.
The government recently adopted a new bylaw regulating the content of merger notifications. The main change relates to the provision of relevant data, stating that one set of data or documents must be provided in the filing process and a second set may be provided, but is not required.
Macedonia seems to be making significant efforts in the harmonisation of national legislation with EU requirements in the area of competition. The 2011 Progress Report concluded that "in the field of mergers and State aid the enforcement record has improved in quantitative terms", and that "good progress can be reported in the area of anti-trust, including mergers."
The Commission for the Protection of Competition has published its 2010 annual report in which it outlines the developments that occurred in the previous year. The report also references a report by the European Commission regarding the enforcement of competition laws in Macedonia, which noted that although overall progress had been made, implementation of the law remains poor in the fields of cartels and state aid.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition has adopted new guidelines for defining the relevant markets for the purposes of the Law on the Protection of Competition. The guidelines provide details of the way in which the commission will apply the concept of 'relevant geographical market' and 'relevant product market'.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently imposed fines on Macedonian Telecom AD, EVN Makedonia and ONE Telekomunikacijski Uslugi for abusing their respective dominant positions. Macedonian Telecom AD was found to have abused its dominant position in the market for fixed public telephone networks and services in Macedonia and was fined Md61.377 million (about €1 million).
The Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Administrative Court finding that T-Mobile had abused its dominant position in the call termination market. As a result, the Commission for the Protection of Competition fined T-Mobile €785,426. The commission also recently initatied proceedings against City Parking for abuse of a dominant position.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition has published guidelines outlining those remedies which are acceptable to the commission under Chapter III on Merger Control of the Law on Protection of Competition. The guidelines mainly elaborate on the mechanism for negotiating solutions for overcoming competition concerns arising in relation to specific concentrations.
In the first half of 2010 the Commission for Protection of Competition assessed five merger control filings. Of those, four were cleared in summary proceedings and one transaction was classified as an intra-group deal and therefore declared to be non-notifiable. The commission also rendered three opinions on state aid, declaring one government intervention to be permissible.