Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition has recently issued its 2013 Annual Report, offering an overview of Commission’s activities in the course of the previous year.

Infringements decisions

In 2013, the Commission received 33 initiatives for investigation of competition law infringements.  In most instances, the Commission determined either that it is not competent to investigate the reported matter (such as, for example, an alleged cartel between commercial banks, which is in the competence of the National Bank, or an alleged violation of competition in the context of public procurement proceedings, which would eventually be for the Republic Commission for Protection of Rights in Public Procurement Proceedings to decide) or that there is no reasonable basis to suspect the infringement.

The Commission conducted six investigations of alleged abuses of dominance and one case concerning alleged restrictive agreement. All these investigations are still pending.

Only two infringement decisions were made in 2013, both in retrials following the annulment of the initial Commission’s decisions by the Administrative Court. Both cases relate to price fixing by bus transport companies on certain routes pursuant to agreements on joint transport of passengers.  The Commission found infringement again and judicial review of these 2013 decisions is pending.

Individual exemptions

The Commission is responsible for granting individual exemptions of restrictive agreements from the prohibition when such agreements do not benefit from a block exemption. The Commission granted 11 individual exemptions, five to the agreements concluded between insurance companies for joint participation in public procurement procedures and six to distribution agreements.

Due to a relatively high number of individual exemptions sought for and granted to insurance agreements, the Commission noted that a specific block exemption regulation for this sector is called for. Before it submits a proposal for such bloc exemption regulation to the Government, the Commission will conduct a specific sector inquiry. According to the Commission, the Serbian insurance sector is specific and a carbon-copy of the EU block exemption regulation for the insurance sector would not be appropriate. 

Concentrations

In 2013, the Commission received 97 concentration notifications. As much as 91 notified concentrations were cleared in Phase I proceedings, while only three cases were decided in Phase II (one concentration was unconditionally cleared, whileSunoko-Hellenic Sugar and Agorokor-Merkator concentrations were subject to conditions. The remaining three notifications were either withdrawn or rejected for lack of requisite turnover thresholds. It is proven once again that the turnover thresholds that trigger mandatory concentration filling in Serbia are set too low and result in the obligation to notify a large number of concentrations that do not pose any competition concerns.