International Cooperation

In today’s globalized economies companies operate increasingly across national borders – intensive cooperation with competition authorities within and outside EU is highly required.

The adoption and effective implementation of competition law has been characterized by a great degree of variability among jurisdictions, notwithstanding the considerable role played by international actors aiming to generate different mechanisms of policy convergence (substantive and/or procedural): the ICN, UNCTAD, OECD, the EU and other regional integration models. This diversity is not only reflected in the adoption of different models of competition law across various jurisdictions, but also in the way competition law has been effectively implemented. 

In view of the challenges of a globalized economy, competition authorities must cooperate in order to maintain a level playing field in terms of competition and to ensure that competition law is fully effective.

The Directorate for International Relations and Communications

The establishment of the new Directorate of International Relations and Communication marks the enhanced emphasis of the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) on outreach, advocacy and the successful development of strategic cooperation with the European Commission, National Competition Authorities at European and international level as well as with International Organizations and agencies of other countries.

The Directorate for International Relations and Communication consists of the Departments:

  1. Department for International Relations
  2. Department for Digital Communication and Public Relations

            Responsibilities

The Directorate of International Relations and Communication, which reports directly to the President of the HCC, is primarily responsible for monitoring, participating in and communicating the issues relating to the functioning of free competition at national, European, and international level.

The Directorate creatively and constructively supports the work of all other Directorates, Branches and Departments of the Hellenic Competition Commission, with the aim of promoting their work and actions not only in the national but primarily in the European and international environment.

            Objectives

The operational objectives of the Directorate are mainly focused on the effective promotion and support of the mission, positions and aspirations of the HCC concerning its relations with the competent EU agencies, international Organizations, networks of Competition Authorities, National Competition Authorities or Agencies of other countries, as well as the contact and connection of the Administration and the Services of the HCC with the above international authorities, organizations and agencies.

Also, one of its main objectives is the implementation of actions with the aim of validly informing organizations and businesses on issues related to the main mission of the Hellenic Competition Commission and, in general, strengthening the outreach and advocacy efforts of the Authority. 

Latest International News

 

Initiatives and Actions within EU

Based on the provisions of EU Council Regulation No 1/2003/EC the European Competition Network (ECN) was established as a forum for discussion and cooperation between European Competition Authorities to achieve a uniform enforcement of European Competition Law within the single market.

The Hellenic Competition Commission participates actively in ECN’s work, especially as regards:

  • Exchange of information about cases and decisions taken by the competition authorities of the network 
  • mutual assistance with investigations,
  • exchange of evidence or other information.

The Hellenic Competition Commission participates actively in ECN work and cooperates with other National Competition Authorities and the Commission on general or sector specific topics within ECN working groups. ECN working groups include – among others – merger law, cartels, digital markets, healthcare and other important sectors of the economy.

The HCC has acted as a coordinator of the ECN group on sustainable development in 2021.

See the statistics on the European Commission’s ECN website

 

Specific Projects and Initiatives
The HCC has recently undertaken several projects and initiatives with EU-wide interest.

At a time when the phenomenon of climate change becomes more acute, the need to accelerate the transformation of the Greek economy becomes urgent, through the adoption of actions to promote Green Growth to the benefit of innovation, consumers and citizens overall. In this context, the Hellenic Competition Commission has taken the initiative to launch a dialogue to find and integrate methods and tools of valuation, analysis and assessment of business practices in competition law, taking into account the extent to which they favor or suspend specific sustainable solutions, always committed to ensuring legal certainty for all parties involved. 

The HCC initiative resulted in an extensive international discussion; through the publication in July 2020 of a Staff Discussion Paper on sustainability and competition law; the organization in September 2020 of an international conference on the same subject; the publication in February 2021 of a joint technical study with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM); and the participation of the Hellenic Competition Commission as a coordinator (jointly with the ACM) in the working group on this issue set up by the European Competition Network (ECN). 

These actions were followed by a proposal for the creation of a “Sandbox” for sustainable development (sustainability) and competition in the Greek market.

For more information regarding the Competition and Sustainability project check here

Digitization has been an accelerator of globalization in the past two decades. It has led to the emergence of new business and brought significant changes in traditional sectors. Competition Authorities play a key role in protecting and enhancing competitive dynamics in the digital space. 

The HCC has launched a Sector Inquiry in E-Commerce and a Sector Inquiry in Fintech in order to actively contribute to the country’s digital transformation and the promotion of innovation and to enhance consumer welfare. The issue of data access has also been raised in the context of the ongoing Sector Inquiry on Private health services and insurance. Finally, the HCC has promoted an agenda of technological change and the use of AI in competition law enforcement, undertaking inception work regarding the use of Computational Competition Law and Economics.  

How national competition agencies can strengthen the DMA

The European Competition Network (ECN) published a joint paper by the heads of the national competition authorities (NCAs) of the European Union on the DMA proposal. The joint paper addresses the issue of coordination of DMA enforcement with competition law enforcement and makes proposals to enhance the effectiveness of this new tool, by allowing NCAs to enforce the procedures related to compliance with the DMA. The joint paper focuses on institutional aspects that are not, at this stage, present in the proposal, with the objective of making the DMA as effective and future-proof as possible. In their joint paper, the heads of national competition authorities advocate establishing a mechanism for close coordination and cooperation among these agencies in the context of the DMA, which could build on the ECN model that has been successfully established for more than 15 years. 

The Joint Paper as well as the press release by the ECN are available here.

European Competition Authorities (ECA) is a discussion forum set up by the competition authorities within the European Economic Area, the European Commission and the EFTA supervisory authority.

European Competition Authorities was founded in April 2001.  The forum’s objective is to improve cooperation between the authorities and to contribute to an effective enforcement of the national laws and the European competition rules. ECA meetings of the heads of the competition authorities are held once a year. 

ECA Conference 2021

 

International Organisations and Networks

On a global level, the HCC participates actively in the competition-related activities of a number of multilateral organisations such as the International Competition Network (ICN), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The main emphasis is on the promotion of policy convergence through dialogue and exchange of views on broader policy and enforcement issues.

The HCC cooperates with the International Competition Network (ICN) which represents more than 140 authorities and aims to promote convergence between competition laws and policies as well as cooperation between Competition Authorities. The issues discussed within the ICN are of great interest both practically and scientifically and indicate the challenges that the HCC is currently facing or will face in the future. As such the HCC actively participates in conferences and forums organized by the ICN and exchanges information regarding its procedures within the network. 

The Hellenic Competition Commission, in collaboration with the OECD, undertook a competition impact assessment of regulations potentially restricting competition in four key sectors for the Greek economy: retail, food processing, construction materials, and tourism. This exercise led to the revision of more than 1,000 pieces of legislation and more than 320 recommendations on legal provisions that should be amended or repealed. The HCC received an honorable mention in 2014 advocacy contest.

The Hellenic Competition Commission also contributed to the Unilateral Conduct Workbook Chapter 3:  Assessment of Dominance (“The Effect of Buyer Power on the Assessment of Dominance”) presented at the 10th Annual ICN Conference,  The Hague, Netherlands May 2011. 

An important forum for discussing competition policy issues is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with its Competition Committee and its two working groups on “Competition and Regulation” and “International Cooperation”.

The OECD Competition Committee and its working groups meet twice a year. The Global Forum on Competition is held with a larger group of participants, at which the OECD members exchange views and experience with delegates from emerging economies and developing countries. The President of the HCC, Prof. Ioannis Lianos, was elected as a regular member to the 2021 Bureau of the OECD Competition Committee. It is the first time that a Greek official is elected to this office, representing the Hellenic Competition Commission. 

The HCC is active within the OECD’s Competition Committee and the Global Forum on Competition, which every year brings together experts from more than 100 competition authorities throughout the world. It participates in the Forum by making written contributions, which are published, and by speaking during sessions.

The United Nations Conference on trade and Development (UNCTAD), is a permanent intergovernmental body. Governed by 195 Member States, UNCTAD is the United Nations body responsible for dealing with development issues. One of its concerns is Competition Policy. The HCC is an active member of the Cross-Border Cartels Working Group and co-sponsored a proposal to enhance international cooperation on this important issue. The HCC is currently working on a project enhancing cooperation in exchanging knowledge and experience in the use of technology and AI for competition law enforcement purposes, in particular between developed, emergent and developing jurisdictions.

The intergovernmental group of experts for Competition Law and Competition Policy holds a meeting annually in Geneva. The Greek delegation (the President of HCC as well as two members of its staff) participated in the 8th United Nations Conference on Competition and Consumer Protection that took place in October, 2020.

 

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