European Competition Network
Bulgaria’s full-fledged membership in the EU requires the CPC, as a national competition authority, to participate actively in the enforcement of the Community competition rules in cooperation with the European Commission and the National Competition Authorities of the other Member States. This cooperation takes place mainly in the framework of the European Competition Network (ECN). The Network plays a key role in the allocation of work among the National Authorities, the EC and the courts, and ensures the coherent application of EU legislation. The ECN membership is related to a constant exchange of information with counterparts, which facilitates the elicitation and maintenance of efficient competition throughout the EU.
CPC representatives take part in horizontal working groups and sector subgroups in ECN. The Commission is also represented at hearings and meetings of the Advisory Committee on restrictive practices and dominant position and the Advisory Committee on concentrations held within the proceedings of the European Commission. The objective of the hearings is to provide undertakings with the opportunity to table arguments of relevance to their cases. Advisory Committees also have a counseling function in that they provide opinions and position documents on draft decisions and other acts submitted by the European Commission. ECN highest forum is the annual meeting of the Heads of the Member-States ’National Competition Authorities and DG Competition of the EC. The topics discussed at the meeting included priority issues in the field of competition policy and legislation.
European Competition Authorities
The European Competition Authorities (ECA) was established in April, 2001 as a forum for discussing competition protection issues. Its members are the competition authorities of the countries within the European economic area (the EC member states, the European Commission, the EACT states Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and the EACT Advisory Board. The Forum functions via working groups, convened for developing and analyzing A high issue summit is organized annually with the participation of the chairmen of the authorities.
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International Competition Network
The Commission on Protection of Competition is member of the International Competition Network (ICN) since 2003.
The ICN, established in 2001, incorporates 104 competition authorities of 93 jurisdictions. It serves as forum for discussing issues of antitrust legislation and competition policy. The aim is to strengthen the cooperation between the competition authorities and to achieve convergence between legislation and law enforcement. ICN is managed by a Managing Group, led by a chairman and deputy chairmen. The network functions through working groups, which research certain problem, draft report and enter it for discussion at the annual conferences and meetings of the ICN members. It aims at providing recommendations and „best practices”, which to be introduced on voluntary basis by the competition authorities. The key working groups, functioning within ICN are “Cartels”, „Unilateral Behavior” (covers the issues, related to abuse of dominant position), „Concentrations”, „Competition Advocacy”, „Competition Policy”, while CPC strives at being actively involved in their work. The high level summit of the ICN is the Annual Conference, attended by the chairmen of the competition authorities.
The CPC is a “liaison agency” in the Support System, created in August 2008. The Systems aims at providing assistance in the form of consultations to competition authorities, which are planning amendments in their national legislation or competition policy. The consultation will be based on the numerous documents on recommended practices, prepared within ICN.
Bulgaria is not a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but it participates in the Global Forum on competition, organized by “Competition” department and the Center for Cooperation with OECD non member-states. The Forum, usually held twice a year, aims at strengthening the cooperation between the competition authorities and discussing some important issues within the area of competition policy. Various international organizations, as well as representatives of organizations of the consumers and businesses also take part in certain discussions of the Forum.
Parallel to that, CPC representatives attend the annual seminars of OECD, dedicated to competition policy, as well as the meetings, organized by the OECD Regional center in Budapest, Hungary.
The Law and Competition Policy Committee with OECD is the core international forum in the area of competition policy. The chairmen of the leading competition authorities worldwide participate in this Committee. Being assisted by the “Competition” department, the Committee prepares analyses, sector inquiries, reports, law enforcement guidelines. All these papers are extremely useful to the governments, supporting them in the decision making process.
CPC also performs cooperation within the frames of the forum, organized by UNCTAD, where the competition authorities of the developing countries and economies in transition discuss practical tackling of issues, related to law and competition policy. Annual meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts is being held, which serves for exchange of information and best practices on specific issues of common interest.
CPC also collaborates with the competition authorities of the countries participants in the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEЕCP). It aims at conducting and fostering effective competition policy. The first Regional Round Table was on the initiative of CPC and it took place on 29 May 2008 in Sofia. There the chairmen of the competition authorities signed a Joint Statement, expressing their will to continue the initiative, taken by the CPC, to foster the contacts and actively promote the joint activities.
CPC involves in bilateral cooperation with other competition authorities. Through this form of cooperation CPC strives at establishing mutually beneficial relationships with the competition authorities, which are not part of the European Competition Network and to assist the countries, which have recently introduced competition protection legislation and competition authority. Besides the long years of cooperation with the Federal Antimonopoly Services (FAS) of Russia, CPC has signed Cooperation Agreements also with the competition authorities of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia , Serbia and Croatia.