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19 04 2024

Chairwoman of the Competition Council, Jolanta Ivanauskienė, presenting the 2023 Annual Report at an interinstitutional meeting in the Government this week, overviewed the main results achieved by the institution in the past year and answered questions.

Among the most important tasks, the head of the Competition Council mentioned 5 identified violations of the Law on Competition, 31 granted permissions for concentration (including two with commitments), one prohibited transaction, after identifying competition issues in the radio and television advertising sales markets, 558 draft legislative acts examined, and the Authority's comments on the impact on competition of some of them, with a view to further fostering a culture of competition impact assessment.

In 2023, 1 Euro allocated from the national budget for the activities of the Competition Council brought almost 6 Euros in expected benefits to consumers, and the average annual direct expected benefits to consumers in year 2021-2023 amounted to 16.7 million Euros. The Competition Council has been calculating the consumer benefit indicator annually since 2011, following the methodology of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

J. Ivanauskienė emphasised that impact assessment includes direct economic benefits to consumers, taking into account the harm that would have been done to them if the Competition Council had not terminated anti-competitive actions or had not prevented restrictions on competition – if a cartel had not been uncovered or if problematic concentration had not been prohibited, consumers would have paid higher prices for several years, and so on. For example, when assessing the direct benefit in 2023, several completed investigations were taken into account, including the uncovered agreement to maintain resale prices between the manufacturer and its product distributors online. Resale price maintenance agreements will remain on the Competition Council's radar in the future because they cause significant harm to consumers.

However, the benefit assessment does not cover all the activities of the Authority, such as the supervision of the Law on the Prohibition of Unfair Practices by Retailers, the coordination of state aid, and competition advocacy, which is a significant part of the staff resources allocated each year to respond to the needs of businesses and public institutions. The Chairwoman of the Competition Council mentioned that after the institution completed its monitoring of online marketplaces, the attention of the sector was drawn to risky business practices that companies should change to avoid infringing the requirements of the Law on Competition.

Last year, the Authority's experts also prepared guidelines on the assessment of unfair commercial practices, a guide on restrictive agreements in labour markets, provided training, gave presentations at seminars and conferences, and provided general advice. According to J. Ivanauskienė, a team of 63 professionals both investigates infringements and carries out educational activities.

The Chairwoman also stressed the need to increase the financial resources allocated to the Authority in order to continue maintaining a level of value for money above the 5:1 ratio. Considering the limited human and financial resources currently available, the Competition Council tries to direct them and to take more active measures in those areas that are important for the Lithuanian economy and are rapidly developing, where products and services of interest to a large number of consumers are offered, i.e., by identifying priority sectors. This year, these are energy, health, retail, and digital market sectors.

The Competition Council is an independent institution accountable to the Seimas, the head of which reports annually to the Government and the Seimas in accordance with the Law on Competition.

Last updated: 19 04 2024