From 15 to 17 March, two significant international events were organized in Berlin for enforcers of competition law – the annual discussion of European competition authorities and the 18th Conference on Competition. In both these events the Competition Council of Latvia was represented by the Chairwoman of the authority Skaidrīte Ābrama.
At the event of European competition authorities that took place on 15 March, participated representatives of competition authorities and the European Free Trade Association. The main topics of discussions were correlation between competition law and consumer protection, application of competition law in the food sector – in the chain from a farmer to a store shelf. Participants of the event also discussed the recognition of the leniency programme and using of the programme among entrepreneurs involved in competition infringements.
The Chairwoman of the Competition Council S. Ābrama in this event gave the introduction speech and chaired the session dedicated to competition law and consumer protection issues on possible synergy from application of both disciplines. During the session, an active discussion between two parties developed – among participants whose represented authorities are responsible for both regulatory frameworks, and who apply only the competition law.
As a result of discussions, heads of authorities agreed – although both these disciplines have a common objective, namely, promotion of welfare of consumers, the approach for implementation of this objective differs. Both approaches are not mutually exclusive and are complementary for the competition authority on the part of the supply and for the consumer rights protection authority on the part of demand. For example, they give a possibility to develop more competitive markets with more diverse supply, which, respectively, can satisfy needs of an informed and demanding consumer.
Meanwhile, the 18th Conference on Competition, which is organized once every two years, has become a high quality internationally recognized brand – one of the world's most recognizable events dedicated to competition issues, which attracts not only appliers of competition law, but also judges, economy experts, academicians and managers of the largest companies in the private sector. In this year, the conference is attended by more than 500 participants from all around the world, discussing, whether application of competition law promotes innovations and investment, what are challenges in the area of application of competition law, caused by digital economy, etc.
On 16 March, the conference was opened by a striking speech of the Commissioner for Competition of the European Commission Ms Margrethe Vestager, who highlighted the topic of risks of price algorithms, created by digital environment, in promotion of competition infringements. In addition, M. Vestager emphasized, that entrepreneurs will not be able to avoid liability for infringements of competition law, delegating specific functions for algorithms, and that the competition conformity principles on digital platforms should be integrated already from the moment of platform establishment.
It has to be particularly noted, that the Chairwoman of the Competition Council was entrusted to moderate the session of questions and answers after the speech of M. Vestager.
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