Today, on 15 April, is the last working day of Skaidrīte Ābrama, the Chairwoman of the Competition Council of Latvia (the CC). S. Ābrama worked in the Authority for 16 years, and half of this period – as the Head of the Authority.
Skaidrīte Ābrama, the Chairwoman of the CC: “When I became the Head of the Authority, basically, I had two main goals. One of them - to seriously address detection of the most severe infringements of the competition law, especially cartels, solving less significant infringements by other methods, for example, warnings or mediation. And the other goal was to promote the competition culture in various groups of society – from a pupil to a Member of the Parliament, educating and informing them on the principles of fair competition. In addition, my plans involved making every effort to ensure that the Latvian competition authority becomes an equivalent and highly respected cooperation partner also on an international scale. Thanks to dedicated work of my team, I can say that, basically, these goals have been achieved.”
In the period since 2012, the Authority has adopted 50 decisions on the most severe infringements of the competition law, and almost half of them have been cartels. Over the course of eights years, fines have been imposed on 161 companies, and 126 legal entities have been warned for less significant infringements. In total, fines worth more than 30 million euros have been imposed.
However, the Authority has been not only a strict judge, but also as an ally both for entrepreneurs, and sectoral supervisors, who has timely noticed non-conformities on markets and provided support in elimination of such non-conformities. During the period of eight years, 106 sector inquiries have been carried out, incl. the recently most topical analysis of reimbursable and non-reimbursable medicines pricing mechanisms in the Baltic states, waste management sector inquiry in Riga, as well as sector inquiry on the market of vehicle technical inspection, for which Latvia received the main award at the Competition Advocacy Contest, organised by the World Bank Group and the International Competition Network.
S. Ābrama emphasises that the time spent at the CC was significant because of two achievements – the legal framework of the competition law has been extended as well as the international appreciation and recognition gained by the authority. As already known, after more than six years of discussions with politicians and representatives of local governments, on 1 January of this year, amendments to the Competition Law came into effect, which grant to the authority more powers to stand against competition distortions caused by the state and local governments or their capital companies.
Whereas on the international stage the authority has proved itself as a small, but efficient authority, the opinion and newly-introduced concepts of which are respected by representatives of other countries. Already for the fifth consecutive year the Authority is listed among 37 best competition authorities in the world, thanks to three stars award given by the prestigious competition journal Global Competition Review. Also the work of the CC on combating of cartels in the period from 2016 to 2019 was announced as the third most active among all jurisdictions of the European Economic Area.
Whereas in 2016 S. Ābrama was included in the list Women in Antitrust 2016 compiled by Global Competition Review, thus being ranked among the most notable women in the world, who operate in the field of protection and enforcements of the competition law. In 2018, S. Ābrama was elected as a Member of the Bureau of OECD Competition Committee, becoming the first Eastern European representative in this organization.
From 2004 to 2009, S. Ābrama held the office of the Council Member of the CC, later becoming the Senior Competition Economist of the CC and holding this position until October 2011. Since 26 June 2012, she is the Head of the Competition Council, and was approved for the second 5-year term in 2017.