In its latest Annual Report, the Competition Council (CC) has summarised the most important results of the Authority’s work in 2023 and the latest developments in the enforcement of competition law in Latvia.

Juris Gaiķis, Chairman of the CC: “The year 2023 marked a brand new era in the CC’s progress towards the set goals; with the diligent support and professionalism of the employees, the new strategy for the institution from 2023 to 2029 was created. We are not afraid to say out loud that we will be even more efficient in our operations, and we are not afraid to believe that we can be an Authority that the public trusts, knowing that we are focused on effective engagement in market development processes. Although 2024 will be the first full year of implementation of the strategy, we can already see that the most important key to our success is already at our disposal – the Authority’s employees, who are loyal to the Authority, as well as to its values, with the team having the passion to get things done. Also, in order to correctly balance the importance of infringements and cases to be brought in the market, the Case Prioritisation Strategy was renewed in 2023. Therefore, the CC will devote resources to identifying and addressing the most important competition restrictions in 2023 and over the next seven years through the sound prioritisation of cases.”

The overall public benefit of the CC’s activities in preventing distortions of competition, monitoring and encouraging changes in markets to promote fair competition, and monitoring large mergers, thus contributing to a healthy overall business environment, is estimated at EUR 51.2 million in 2023.

The CC’s performance in ensuring a fair competitive environment has also been recognised globally. For the ninth year in a row, the prestigious competition publication Global Competition Review has ranked the CC among the world’s best competition authorities by awarding it three stars.

In 2023, the CC adopted 28 decisions on the most serious competition infringements, finding a total of four infringements and imposing fines of almost EUR 7 million, which is not counted in the total monetary benefit to society mentioned above. In turn, fines amounting to EUR 1 512 555.75 were paid to the State budget. In 2023, 21 preventive actions were carried out to obtain evidence of a possible competition infringement, warning a total of 71 companies.

The Authority’s overall objective in 2023 was to assess possible infringements efficiently, saving the Authority’s limited resources and, based on the Case Prioritisation Strategy, to prevent them with the “Consult First” principle. Thus, compared to 2022, the number of preventions carried out was doubled and the number of companies warned was quadrupled.

In addition, in 2023, the CC received more than 130 different complaints about the conduct of public entities. The CC used the negotiation procedure to remedy the infringement in four cases when assessing an infringement of competition neutrality in the conduct of public entities which discriminated against private market players.

Last year, in the exercise of its new functions, which came into force with the 2023 amendments to the Public Procurement Law, the CC issued 22 opinions to procuring entities on the possible elements of prohibited agreements in procurement on the basis of which the procuring entity is entitled to exclude tenderers from the procurement.

Seven proceedings were concluded last year, in all cases with the entry into force of the CC’s decisions. In addition, surveillance was carried out in five markets, including assessing and proposing remedies to competition restrictions, such as digital markets, cooperation between traders and suppliers, and the retail market, studying dairy, cereals and bakery products.

In addition to providing advice to businesses and public entities, educational activities have also been carried out during the reporting period. This has included the development of a self-assessment tool for suppliers and retailers on contractual penalties in the application of the Prohibition of Unfair Trading Practices Law, as well as a section on vertical agreements on the website, complemented by a self-assessment questions tool.