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SEEC: Union's transboundary markets to be regulated “softly”

SEEC: Union's transboundary markets to be regulated “softly”

5/19/2020

The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council approved the 2019 annual report on the state of competition in transboundary markets and measures taken in the Eurasian Economic Union to prevent violations of the general rules of competition therein.

The report noted that the Union was consistently working to remove barriers to the movement of goods, and more and more markets were becoming common and open to entrepreneurs. In this regard, the Commission’s activities on developing and protecting competition in transboundary markets within the territory of two or more EAEU States are an important element of protecting their rights.


The document highlights the priority areas of the EEC’s activities in this sphere. One of them is related to monitoring compliance with the general rules of competition in transboundary markets. Last year, the Commission considered 17 applications suggesting possible violation of the general rules. The most common of them were abuse of dominant position and unfair competition. The Commission's Antitrust Unit conducted nine investigations and reviewed eight cases for such violations.


However, there are cases where investigations and causing proceedings can be avoided. It was not until fairly recently that the "soft regulation" mechanism was introduced into the Union's law, but already last year the Commission has elaborated seven proposals on eliminating violations of competition rules in various EAEU markets. This allows shifting the focus from punishment to preventive measures that ensure the creation of competitive conditions in the Union's transboundary markets.


The “soft response” tools, as prepared and proposed by the Commission to the Union countries, include warnings and cautions. Warnings will be issued to legal entities and individuals as well as non-profit organizations, at the stage of considering an application (materials) on violation of the general rules of competition in transboundary markets, if their actions have any signs of violation of the general rules of competition.


The Commission will forward cautions when it detects a public statement made by an economic entity’s official or an individual about its planned behavior in a transboundary market (intent), if such behavior (intent) can lead to violating the general rules of competition in transboundary markets, while there are still no grounds for conducting an investigation.


Relevant amendments to the competition laws were approved at the SEEC meeting in October 2019 and are now being ratified in the Union countries.


Visiting meetings of the Commission's Public Reception Office are called to establish direct dialogue with the business and to raise awareness among entrepreneurs about the rules of fair competition. In 2019, experts from the EEC's Competitive Unit held 22 meetings in various regions of the Union countries. Their participants included more than 700 entrepreneurs doing business in the Union's transboundary markets.


The report highlights another focus area, that is constant monitoring of prices for a number of goods subject to anti-dumping duties when imported. It helps protect the interests of consumers and manufacturers as well as observe equal competitive conditions for all market players.


Another important focus area is increasing the transparency of the EEC’s work in this area, which is greatly facilitated by the introduction of information technology. In November last year, the Commission’s Board adopted the rules that would enable electronic exchange of documents and information between the EEC and the Union countries’ authorized authorities in charge of competition and antitrust regulation.


International cooperation is one of the focus areas of the Commission's work as well. In order to improve the EAEU antitrust legislation, the best world practices of leading antitrust (competition) departments are being studied; there is also an ongoing cooperation with the OECD, the UN, the CIS and others.


The set of competition protection measures being implemented by the Commission is aimed at creating favorable conditions for businesses of the five countries.

As instructed by the SEEC, the annual report will be published on the EEC's official website.​