The Chairman of the Office discussed future cooperation and effective investigation of cartel agreements with the Slovak and Hungarian Competition Authorities

2022-02-04
Petr Mlsna, the Chairman of the Office for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter referred to as “the Office”), made a working visit to partner competition authorities of Slovakia and Hungary this week. He was accompanied by Kamil Nejezchleb, the Vice-Chairman of the Office, responsible for the Competition Division.

During his visit to the Slovak Antimonopoly Office in Bratislava on Wednesday, the Chairman Petr Mlsna had a meeting with its Chairman Tibor Menyhart and the Vice-Chairman Boris Gregor. On Thursday, he visited partners from the Hungarian Competition Authority Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (GVH) in Budapest, where he held talks with its President, Mr. Csaba Balázs Rigó.

At both foreign authorities, the common competition issues and problems were mainly discussed, as well as the upcoming Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Chairman of the Office accepted invitation to participate in the Visegrad 4 Competition Conference, which will take place at the end of April in Hungary, and also in the competition conference organised by the Slovak Antimonopoly Office in May.

Slovak NCAThe Chairman Petr Mlsna agreed with his foreign colleagues to apply a careful approach to environmental considerations when assessing prohibited agreements, adding that they would only accept such arguments when the benefits of a relevant agreement are fully passed on to consumers. Representatives of all the given authorities also stressed the considerable importance on the forthcoming EU regulation on digital markets and services, in particular in case of large technology companies whose activities and market power pose a major challenge to competition authorities. While the European Commission will be the main actor in this area, the national competition authorities will also be empowered to intervene in individual regional markets.

Another topic they had discussed was the effective use of investigatory powers acquired by competition authorities according to the ECN+ Directive. In Hungary, for example, they have significant experience in securing digital evidence from cloud storage when detecting cartel agreements. They had also presented a case in which they used police wiretaps in a cartel investigation. In Slovakia, they also have the statutory power to request information from police files.

Other practical competition policy issues were also on the agenda, such as the possibilities and role of competition authorities in mitigating price increases in the construction sector, which all Central European countries have recently encountered. Liability of individuals and parent companies for cartel agreements was also discussed, in particular the joint and several liability of multiple legal entities forming a single undertaking.

The visits to Slovakia and Hungary will contribute to more intensive cooperation with partner competition authorities, which goes beyond the general cooperation within the European Competition Network (ECN), and, in particular, had enabled a more detailed discussion on common technical topics at expert level.

Hungarian NCA


Press Unit of the Office for the Protection of Competition

22/019

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