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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
Certain articles of the Law on Protection of Competition prohibit abuse of a dominant position held by one or more operators in a market. In order to clarify how it intends to implement these articles, the Competition Authority recently issued an instruction outlining what constitutes a dominant position and how abuse of a dominant position is assessed.
In order to harmonise Albanian legislation with EU law, the Albanian Competition Authority has approved the Regulation on the Exemption of Research and Development (R&D) Agreement Categories. The regulation sets down the block exemption from applicable competition restrictions of agreements regarding the R&D of products or processes up to the stage of industrial application and exploitation of the results.
In order to harmonise Albanian legislation with EU law - and in particular with EU Regulation 1218/2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to certain categories of specialisation agreement - the Albanian Competition Authority has approved the Regulation on the Exemption of Specialisation Agreements.
During an investigation into the domestic procurement of auto vehicles, the Competition Authority discovered that several companies had established concerted anti-competitive practices. As a result, the authority imposed fines of between 2% and 10% of each company's turnover from the previous year. Additionally, it recommended the adoption of guidelines for the identification of future bid-rigging schemes in public procurement.
Parliament has approved Law 10,317 on Amendments to Law 9,121 on the Protection of Competition. The amendments were proposed by the Albanian Competition Authority as part of a special competition law review taskforce, with the aim of harmonising Albania's competition legislation with EU law.
Parliament recently approved the new Law on Administrative Contraventions. Based on the provisions of the new law, as well as on the proposed amendments to the Competition Law, facts constituting competition infringements should be considered and relevant fines decided by the Competition Authority.
The Competition Authority has proposed several amendments to the Competition Law in order to harmonize it with the EU regime. The amendments affect almost all chapters of the law, including those on anti-competitive agreements, merger control, dominance, notification and investigation procedures, fines and appeals and their execution.
The Competition Authority is a public independent authority established under Law 9121/2003 on Competition Protection. The law aims to harmonize the national legislative framework with EU law, and from the moment the law was enacted particular attention was given to the role of the Competition Authority in the implementation process.