Concluding the active period of the euro introduction in Latvia and collecting data of sector inquiries carried out by the Competition Council (CC) of Latvia, the CC states that recent introduction of euro currency within the Latvian market has not been accompanied by competition infringements.
During the euro introduction, it can be difficult for consumers to follow price changes, moreover, undertakings had to simultaneously deal with issues related to costs of the euro introduction. Therefore, in October, 2013, the CC commenced a sector inquiry to prevent market participants from agreeing to increase prices under the guise of the euro introduction instead of participating within the fair competition.
To keep track of price changes and to notice indications of price coordination of specific goods and services, the CC analysed data, monitored by the Ministry of Economics and the Consumer Rights Protection Centre, as well as almost 200 consumer complaints. After receiving such complaints, the CC thoroughly examined the market of parking services in the capital of Latvia, Riga, market of commercial banking services, market of the compulsory civil liability insurance of owners of motor vehicles, as well as examined actions of two undertakings – Riga’s Central Market and a real estate manager „Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks”.
Furthermore, the CC focused on the prevention, as the authority prepared informative materials and held meetings with undertakings and associations to explain that undertakings have to set their pricing policy individually, including possible compensation of additional costs due to the euro introduction.
Inspecting monitored data, the CC concluded that observed price changes are not related to competition infringements and business strategies of undertakings had been created individually. In some cases, due public announcements to planned price hike by undertakings or associations, the CC issued warnings and pointed to the risks of violations of the Competition Law.
After the end of the active euro introduction period, in the second half of 2014, the CC continues to monitor the market while focusing the attention on certain markets of goods and services in which, during the previous half of the year, substantial price changes have occurred.
Latvia joined the Eurozone in 1 January, 2014.