The start of 2013 was marked by the long-awaited introduction of a new antitrust authority - the Competition Protection Agency - which will be led by Andrej Krašek.
The internal organisation of the agency differs from the structure of the Competition Protection Office (for further information please see "Competition authority reorganised: finally, again and for the last time?"). The senate and the president of the senate will be responsible for adopting decisions in individual cases and the agency will be run by the director and the council. The agency has been reinforced with 13 employees from other ministries and public bodies, which should enable quicker resolution of proceedings.
According to Krašek, the senate has already adopted decisions in three merger notification cases and is in the process of adopting a work programme that will be confirmed by the government. The agency's enforcement priorities will focus on the markets that have the greatest influence on the national economy and those in which it receives the highest number of complaints. These are likely to include the energy, postal services, food and telecommunications sectors, according to the proposals of the agency's employees, but the programme has not yet been made public.
The agency will also continue the in-depth market investigation of the food retail sector, which was instigated by the former Competition Protection Office, but Krašek has refused to give further details before the investigation has been completed.
The agency instigated its first antitrust matter on February 19 2013, issuing a decision on the commencement of a procedure against distributors of natural gas, under Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and its Slovenian equivalent, Article 6 of the Competition Act.
According to the official part of the decision, there is a concern that the natural gas distributors, together with the commercial association for natural gas distribution, exchanged sensitive commercial information and engaged in concerted practices of price-fixing on the market for natural gas distribution to household customers.
Krašek considers this a high-priority matter and has stated that the agency must resolve the proceedings, which were instigated as far back as 2004, as soon as possible.
It seems that competition law enforcement in Slovenia will not go unnoticed in the coming months.
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