To complete the tetralogy, after annual reviews of competition developments in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, here is, in a nutshell, what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina during 2017 and what to expect in 2018.
Following a Phase II investigation initiated in October 2017, the Serbian Competition Commission has cleared the acquisition of a Serbian yeast producer (owned by the American Alltech) by the French giant Lesaffre. The clearance was conditional and includes certain reporting obligations by the merged entity.
The newsletter for January is out! Apart from Serbia, it now also covers Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia (FYROM).
One of the very last decisions the Serbian Commission for the Control of State Aid rendered in 2017 was a finding that the aid which the national gas company Srbijagas awarded to the production of a popular TV series in Serbia was not State aid. The Commission’s conclusion was that Srbijagas is not a State aid grantor within the meaning of Serbian State aid legislation.
A peculiarity of competition law enforcement in Bosnia and Herzegovina is what could be called an ‘ethnic veto’ – there has to be a sort of an ethnic consensus within the Bosnian competition authority in order for any decision to be adopted. And, combined with the rules limiting the maximum duration of proceedings before the Competition Council, this in practice may lead to the blockade in the watchdog’s competition law enforcement.
During 2017, the activities of the Montenegrin competition authority continued to be focused on merger control, with antitrust enforcement a bit in the shadow. In the authority’s own words, one of the main obstacles towards a more effective competition law enforcement in Montenegro is the procedure for imposing fines for competition law infringements. Will things change in 2018?
Apart from antitrust and merger control issues, the Montenegrin Competition Agency will soon also be in charge of State aid control. The draft law to that effect has already reached parliament and is expected to be adopted at the next parliamentary session.
Compared to its neighbors, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been known as a jurisdiction with relatively low merger filing fees. Will it stay like that if the proposed changes to the filing fees go through?
Now that it’s behind us, it’s safe to say the previous year was one of the most eventful ones since modern Serbian competition law came to being. This not only due to a fairly active Competition Commission, but also due to other developments, such as those surrounding the drafting of a new Competition Act.