Polish competition and consumer watchdog (UOKiK) has published a draft of its new policy. The draft sets out UOKiK’s new priorities and a plan to cooperate with other public authorities to achieve its goals. For the first time UOKiK’s policy prioritises competition protection, merger control and consumer protection, particularly in the financial services sector. These priorities will form the basis for the UOKiK’s actions in the coming years.
The most important priorities in the area of competition protection include:
- Fighting cartels in particular with regard to price fixing and market sharing.
- Using the UOKiK’s analytical tools (e.g. market tests) on a regular basis to identify markets which should be subject to stricter control.
- Strengthening and more frequently using the UOKiK’s investigative powers. The UOKiK intends to use its right to enter companies’ premises more frequently to search for evidence of potential competition law infringement. The authority intends to use new IT tools and strengthen its investigative team by employing specialists with experience in other law enforcement agencies. To this end the UOKiK has signed agreements on cooperation with the head of the Internal Security Agency and the Attorney General.
- Identifying and penalising bid-rigging schemes in cooperation with other institutions such as the Central Anticorruption Bureau, the Internal Security Agency and public prosecutors.
In the area of merger control the UOKiK announced:
- The introduction of the possibility of consulting its officials before making a formal notification of a merger. This means that it will be possible to receive information that will be helpful for obtaining approval for the proposed transaction.
- An applicant’s argument that it will improve efficiency by way of a merger will more frequently be accepted as convincing than in the past.
In the area of consumer protection UOKiK will pay particular attention to:
- Monitoring companies which have been found to violate consumer rights in the past.
- Intensifying control over the financial sector.
- Creating a new register of abusive clauses, which will be made available with the introduction of the administrative system of control of abusive clauses. The current register will also be maintained for 10 years.
The UOKiK’s policy will enter into force after its formal adoption by the Council of Ministers, which should take place before the parliamentary elections. Currently, it is undergoing consultation in government committees.