Currently the effective enforcement of competition law is a complex issue. Its integral part is also international cooperation in the area of enforcement and harmonization of competition law and policy. In order to enforce competition rules effectively, it is thus essential for the Office for the Protection of Competition to actively engage in cooperation, which includes activities of national competition authorities, bodies of international organisations and further initiatives which help in solving cases with international dimension and above all contribute to exchanging information and experience regarding specific topics. With regard to the fact that the Czech Republic is a Member State of the EU, the majority of commitments and duties result from co-operation among the European competition authorities and the European Commission, in particular the Directorate-General for Competition, within the ECN (European Competition Network). The community framework of competition law is an integral part of the Office’s activity and thus a great part of foreign co-operation consists in dealing with the European Commission within individual committees and working groups.
The second significant area of international cooperation includes meetings and participation in conferences held by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD Competition Committee and its working groups for co-operation and competition law enforcement hold its meetings twice a year. These forums provide an opportunity for discussing various competition topics and for exchanging experience among member states, international organisations and associated observers (Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan etc.). The OECD is a unique platform at the expert level and it makes it easier for the Office to monitor the current trends in the field of competition. The Office is also a regular contributor to all topics discussed in meetings and strives to be a dignified representative of the Czech Republic in the international field.
An important part of the international cooperation of the Office is represented by its involvement in other international organisations, such as ICN (International Competition Network), ECN (European Competition Network) or UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development).
The Office’s employees also regularly attend international conferences, workshops and seminars dealing with competition law. The content of these events contributes to developing a certain level of expert knowledge of the Office’s employees. Last but not least, it is necessary to mention that the Office’s experts are regular speakers at international events and their presentations and contributions constitute a significant benefit for the development of competition law at an international level.
In addition to regular meetings with other competition authorities’ representatives and experts on competition law within international platforms and conferences, the Office also develops the bilateral relations with other competition authorities from all over the world. At European level, the International Unit of the Office is in daily contact with the European Commission, whether it concerns case-by-case consultations or general approach towards competition policy, or by consulting the possibilities of ongoing trainings of Office´s employees. As part of the staff trainings and development programmes, the Office regularly sends its national experts to the Directorate-General for Competition at the European Commission. These internships help to build a closer relationship with the European Commission and at the same time provide an opportunity for the Office’s employees to gain valuable experience, which could be useful for the future practice of the employees upon their return to the Czech Republic.
Making connections and sharing experience with other foreign authorities, both in the area of competition and other competencies of the Office, is also an important aspect of international cooperation. The Slovak Competition Authority remains the Office’s closest foreign partner. As an example of these above-standard relations, the Office would like to highlight rapid and mutually beneficial cooperation within the exchange of information, mutual assistance in dealing with cross-border cases and participation in regular meetings, where other possibilities of new cooperation are often constructively discussed.