Riga, 7 May 2015 – The European Competition Day Conference on 7 May served as a platform to world’s leading competition law experts, representatives of EU competition authorities, Latvian entrepreneurs, representatives of NGOs and national administrative authorities, academics, judges and lawyers focusing on competition law to discuss the best solutions to ensure that competition policy makes the market work for the benefit of consumers and foster economic growth.
In the opening speech of the conference, the European Commissioner for Competition, Ms Margrethe Vestager emphasized the crucial role of cooperation among EU competition authorities: "The system we have set up in the EU over the past decade is quite remarkable. In the first ten years since the entry into force of the Antitrust Regulation in May 2004, we have adopted almost 800 decisions and over 650 of them have been taken by national authorities. Together, we are stronger, more effective and a better deterrent for any company that may be tempted to ignore competition law in the internal market. Our authorities apply the same rules, but that’s only one of the reasons why we are part of a close-knit network. Above all we pursue common values, principles and ultimate goals."
In her address to the audience the Latvian Minister for Economic Affairs, Ms Dana Reizniece-Ozola pointed out, that competition policy has a significant role in addressing and achieving the main priorities of the Latvian Presidency, which are Competitive Europe, Digital Europe and Engaged Europe. “Competition policy protects and strengthens the Single Market, it ensures a level playing field for businesses, and it supports innovation”, said the Minister. “We should use any opportunity that enhances EU economic growth – including the possibilities presented by a highly competitive environment”, stressed Ms Dana Reizniece-Ozola. In her opinion, the perspective, trust and cooperation are three main concepts which are essential to the provision of fair competition in all economic sectors.
Speaking on interaction of economy and competition culture the Chair of the Competition Council of Latvia Ms Skaidrīte Ābrama introduced the audience with the positive example from Latvia, mentioning a specific legislation that help to balance the powerful supermarket chains and small producers and importers. She also informed on competition issues that arise when the state and local governments start their business activity in sectors where there are already successfully operating private companies.
The first panel discussion was devoted to the possibilities to ensure level playing field between public and private-owned businesses. The participants discussed the theoretical framework of capacity of the state to intervene in market activity both forming their own companies and controlling the market. The representatives of national competition authorities of Lithuania and the Netherlands demonstrated the practical experience of implementing a specific regulatory framework, which allows regulating public persons’ business opportunities.
The second panel discussion that was devoted to fight against unlawful agreements of enterprises discussed the challenges of both defining and proving cartel activities. The participants of the conference highlighted the most up-to-date solutions that set clear rules for entrepreneurs and ensures the consumers that their interests will be protected.
The third panel discussion on imbalance in the market power of large retail chains and small producers and their suppliers highlighted various legislative approaches in EU Member States. The participants also agreed that the retail market requires a special approach to competition, and these issues will not lose their actuality on competition authorities’ agenda.
Among the high level participants, the conference hosted representatives from competition authorities, the EC Directorate-General for Competition, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) along with leading scholars in the field of competition law (Professors Alison Jones, Eleanor M. Fox and William Evan Kovacic).
Media contact information:
Head of Communication Division
Competition Council of Latvia
Phone: +371 67365210; Mobile: +371 20219048
Ministry of Economic Affairs of Latvia
Public Relations Division
Phone: +371 67013193