In signing stabilisation and association agreements, the candidate countries of the former Yugoslavia recognised "the importance of the approximation of the existing legislation to that of the Community and of its effective implementation".(1) The European Union signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Macedonia on April 9 2001, defining mutual rights and obligations while setting the basis for a legislation harmonisation process. At present, the Macedonian Competition Authority is working to translate and harmonise existing legislation with the Community acquis. Macedonia seems to be making significant efforts in the harmonisation of national legislation with EU requirements in the area of competition.
The 2011 Commission Staff Working Paper – Macedonia 2011 Progress Report(2) concluded:
"Some progress was made in the area of competition. In the field of mergers and State aid the enforcement record has improved in quantitative terms, but it remains low in the field of cartels. The [Macedonian Competition Authority] does not have adequate budgetary resources."
Further, the report stated:
"Good progress can be reported in the area of anti-trust, including mergers... Compared to 2010, the enforcement record has increased in the field of mergers but remains low in the area of cartels."
In its 2010 Annual Report,(3) the Macedonian Competition Authority described the enforcement level of competition in Macedonia:
"The number of employees who work in the area of antitrust and mergers remains insufficient... The number of Administrative Court judges who work on cases in the area of competition is appropriate. The judges have received training in antitrust and mergers."
The Macedonian Competition Authority has hired one additional person in the past year to boost its antitrust and merger team, which is still insufficient. Training and ongoing educational opportunities for existing staff are essential for improving the quality of work. Further improvement can be achieved by:
- increasing the number of employees (hiring highly qualified lawyers and economists to support the current teams); or
- reducing the commodity work imposed on the Competition Authority (through increasing the extremely low thresholds and introducing the so-called 'domestic effect' doctrine).
The best solution would probably be a combination of both approaches.
For further information on this topic please contact Srdjana Petronijević at Moravčević Vojnović i Partneri in cooperation with Schoenherr by telephone (+381 11 320 26 00), fax (+381 11 320 26 10) or email ([email protected]).
(1) See http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/index_en.htm.
(2) Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2011–2012, Commission Staff Working Paper, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2011 Progress Report, October 12 2011, page 37, available at http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2011/package/mk_rapport_2011_en.pdf.
(3) The 2010 Annual Report of the Macedonian Competition Authority, page 35, available at http://kzk.gov.mk/images/Vestiimages/950/ПРЕЗЕМИ.pdf.