The Competition Council marks the 15th Anniversary 15 years of history
The foundations for competition law in Lithuania were laid down in its Constitution adopted in 1992, Article 46 whereof prohibits monopolization of production and the market, and protects freedom of fair competition. In the same year, Lithuania adopted its first Law on Competition, which established the specific principles underlying the freedom of fair competition essentially based on the provisions of Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community.
In 1999, after a seven-year of experience, the new Law on Competition was passed by the Parliament. The Law was meant to attain a dual objective: to establish more effective procedural rules, and to bring the Lithuanian competition law into line with that of the European Community.
The latest amendments that came into force on May 1, 2004, have been related to Lithuania’s accession into the European Union and the reforms in EC competition law. The Law on Competition of 1999 was supplemented by a new Chapter “Application of the European Union Competition Rules”, according which the Competition Council was authorized to apply the EU competition rules. In addition, some changes have been introduced in the area of prohibited agreements, merger control and sanctions.
In 2008, the Competition Council drafted new amendments to the Law on Competition. The draft contains the following novelties:
- the right to inspect private premises (with Court order);
- the right to seal business premises used by undertakings;
- more detailed provisions concerning the assumption of voluntary commitments, and others.
Under the first Law on Competition of 1992 the Competition Council initially existed within the Institution of Price and Competition under the Ministry of Economics. In 1995 the Institution was reorganised into the State Competition and Consumer Protection Office by the Government, the director of which was appointed by the Government. The former Competition Council was under the State Competition and Consumer Protection Office. The Competition Council consisted of seven members, also appointed by the Government, and served for terms of three years. Council members did not serve full time in their positions; they only used to meet once-twice per month for making relevant decisions.
The Law of 1999 created an independent competition authority - the Competition Council of the Republic of Lithuania andprovided it with a greater measure of independence. The Council is a collegiate body, composed of 5 persons who take their decisions by majority vote. The Law provides that the Chairperson and four members of the Competition Council are appointed by the President, according to the proposal of the Prime Minister. The Chairperson serves for a term of five years, and the four members serve for a term of six years, except that initially two members serve for a three year term. The same person can not be appointed for more than two consecutive terms of office.
The activities of the Council are carried out by the Administration of the Competition Council. The Administration of the Council includes the Head of the Administration, 8 structural divisions, the Press Representative, the Secretary to the meetings, the Personnel and Logistics Division, and the Finance Division. In total the Administration amounts to 55 people.
The maintask of the Competition Council is to apply the Law on Competition. Under the Law on Competition the Council is responsible for controlling of:
- agreements that restrict competition;
- abuses of dominant positions;
- concentrations which create or strengthen a dominant position or substantially restrict competition;
- unfair competition; and
- anticompetitive activities of public and local authorities.
According to the amendments introduced in 2004, the Competition Council is also a coordinating institution in matters related to state aid subject to the EU state aid rules. It performs expert examination of projects, submits to state aid providers recommendations, accumulates information on state aid granted in Lithuania and submits such information to the European Commission.
In addition to the supervision of the Law on Competition, the Competition Council also carries out functions assigned by the Law on Prices and the Law on Advertising.
The Competition Council investigates competition restrictions both on its own initiative and on the basis of complaints.
Investigated breaches of the Law on Competition
Total number of decisions -454,
96 - on abuse of dominant positions,
57 - on prohibited agreements,
99 - on restrictive actions of public and local authorities,
135 - on unfair competition,
51 - on illegal concentration,
16 - on fail to fulfil the obigations of the Competition institution.
Permissions given for concentrations – 845.Competition Council Spokesperson