Serbia still has a system of individual exemption of restrictive agreements based on prior notification to the national competition authority (NCA). What kind of agreements did the NCA exempt during 2018?
When it comes to restrictive agreements, Serbia still has a system of individual exemption based on prior notification to the NCA. And since the NCA has recently published a summary of all exemption decisions it adopted during 2017, it may be interesting to look at these in more depth.
The newsletter for July is out! Read about the latest competition law developments in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia (FYROM).
Unlike the current EU mechanism, Serbia’s system of individual exemption of restrictive agreements is still based on prior notification to the competition authority – the Commission for Protection of Competition. However, it seems this is about to change.
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 whether to retain the current notification system of individual exemption or switch to self-assessment, another possible dilemma of the drafters of the new Serbian Competition Act is who should have standing to challenge an individual exemption decision of the Competition Commission. Currently, in practice the standing belongs only to the parties which requested the exemption. But isn’t this unfair?
In the process of the drafting of the new Serbian Competition Act, apart from the merger filing thresholds, an issue drawing particular attention is how the individual exemption of restrictive agreements should be set up: whether the system of prior notification should be retained or whether self-assessment should be introduced. Actually, perhaps the best solution would be to have both – and (earlier) EU law offers a basis for that.
As reported earlier, Serbia is in the process of completing its block exemption system by adopting four new block exemption regulations. The first two on the list are block exemptions governing technology transfer and transport by rail, road and inland waterway, respectively, the drafts of which are now out.
The Serbian Competition Commission has recently published its annual report for 2016. Among the parts of the report catching the eye is the Commission’s announcement that during this year it plans to draft four new block exemption regulations for restrictive agreements. Once the drafting is completed, the Commission would submit the regulations to the Government for adoption.
Since conducting its first dawn raids two years ago, the Serbian Competition Commission has now become well versed in such inspections. Most recently, during the last week of May the Commission raided the premises of several companies, in two separate cases. The first case concerns a familiar name in Serbian antitrust: the largest Serbian ice cream manufacturer Frikom. The other case is about alleged bid rigging in public procurement, something which has been in the Commission’s focus for quite some time now.