On 21 April 2015, the Belgian Competition Authority communicated what it will focus its attention on in 2015. It's the second consecutive year that the Belgian Competition Authority has clarified its prosecution priorities since its institution in 2013. This year, the Authority intends to strategically prioritise several sectors and plans to actively trace and prosecute cartel agreements:
- The liberalised sectors and network industries in energy and telecommunication.
- The distribution sector, especially its relationship with suppliers. In this regard, we refer to the ongoing proceedings regarding several supermarket chains and several suppliers of personal care products. The Authority is also inspired by the current investigations and studies on prices in supermarkets in other European countries.
- The e-commerce and media sector: the Authority wants to ensure that consumers have adequate access to content, regardless of the technological medium used. The Authority also wants to raise awareness of "possible regulations which would impede the arrival or development of new entrants".
- The banking sector.
- Services to undertakings (and consumers): the Authority intends to keep applying competition law to associations of undertakings whenever necessary and to call for the suppression of barriers to entry relating to the legal form of undertakings.
- The Authority notes that the public procurement sector amounts to 10-15% of national income and is particularly vulnerable to anti-competitive agreements, since quantities are set by the contracting authority regardless of prices.
Nevertheless, it will in our opinion depend on a drastic change in recruitment policies as to whether the Competition Authority will be able to achieve results for these strategic priorities. The current recruitment freeze and the overall lack of resources could seriously threaten the “good intentions” of the Authority.