As a special kind of „path dependence” process, there is no doubt that „competition policy history” matters. And, on May 30, 2013, the Capital City of Romania, Bucharest, provided the right framework for continuing on the right path , and on building on delivering for consumers. The responsible discussions within the context of the Conference “Accomplishments and perspectives regarding competition on the Romanian market” confirmed the importance of path-dependent features of the competition policy ranging from superior standards and procedures applied by the European competition authorities to the patterns of facilitating effective international cooperation to the benefit of good work of the mentioned authorities in applying rules in the same way across the EU in order to make sure businesses and companies compete fairly with each other, and create a wider choice for consumers and help reduce prices and improve quality.
The Romanian Competition Council launched on May 30, 2013, the “2012 Annual Activity Report” within the context of the Conference “Accomplishments and perspectives regarding competition on the Romanian market” (including two round tables on “Pro-competitive legislation for a predictable business environment”, and “Monitoring competition in Romanian food retailing sector”). The Romanian Competition Council also hosted on May 30-31, 2013, at Bucharest Intercontinental Hotel, the meeting of the European Competition Authorities (ECA) from the European Union and EFTA, with the participation of Mr. Alexander Italianer, Director General of DG Competition, European Commission.
The Prime Minister of Romania, Victor Ponta, participated at the opening of the event of the presentation of “2012 Annual Activity Report” of the Romanian Competition Council. On this occasion, Prime Minister Victor Ponta pointed out that: “…we should have an independent, professional Competition Council and which, with patience, consistency, should educate all society partners on the importance of observing the competition rules because a country where there is truly competition, it is a country that can remain competitive… I am very much glad that the idea of transparency and professionalism of the Competition Council in Romania get strengthened and the direction is the good one… I do not see in the Competition Council just that tough arbiter who sanctions us, but I see a partner… I want to congratulate the Competition Council for the last year’s activity, and I want to rejoice that this European meeting takes place in Bucharest, in fact, here, in Bucharest, many things are happening… we are good hosts as this year, there will come, the Presidents, leaders of all international financial institutions: IMF, World Bank, EBRD, EIB. The fact that Romania has economic growth and if I look in the area, surely a stable Government, without fair competition and economic development, all this stability will prove to be short – lived, and I want to further have in the Competition Council an arbiter and a partner…” (http://www.gov.ro/pm-victor-ponta-i-want-us-to-further-have-in-the-competition-council-both-an-arbiter-and-a-partner__l2a120126.html ).
At this special event, outstanding figures within the European competition area participated: Mr. Alexander Italianer, Director General, DG Competition, European Commission; Mr. Bruno Lasserre, President of the French Competition Authority; Mr. Alberto Heimler, Chairman of the Working Group on Competition and Regulation within the European OECD (an old good and valuable friend of the Romanian Competition Council) and Mr. Paul Csiszar, Director of Industry and Agriculture Directorate, DG Competition, European Commission. The event was also attended by representatives of Parliament, Government Institutions, the Judiciary, the Business Environment, Civil Society, and of course of the Consultative Council of the Romanian Competition Council.
Mr. Alexander Italianer, Director General, DG Competition, European Commission, underlined, during his intervention, the very strong record of the Romanian Competition Council, an independent and transparent authority, and an extremely active authority in enforcing the competition law and also at the level of European Competition Network. He also highlighted the importance of Advocacy as Prime Minister Victor Ponta said, and of focusing on the right priorities, the main challenges underlined by Mr. Bogdan M. Chiritoiu, the President of the Romanian Competition Council. Mr. Alexander Italianer also referred to the current discussions (the Competitiveness Council meeting from May 29 and May 30, 2013 focused on a range of measures aimed at supporting and accelerating economic recovery and at translating results into more growth and new jobs; “smart regulation”) at the level of Competitiveness Council about the political agreement on two regulations pushing forward the reform of the state aid rules.
Beyond the emphasis made by the Director General of DG Competition, allow us to add that the “2012 Annual Activity Report” of the Romanian Competition Council reconfirmed the accumulated experience, improving the methodology for analysis, and the impact of the promotion of the competition culture on the relevant markets to which we referred on November 2, last year (see Romanian Competition Council Report „The Romanian competition environment – developments in key sectors”, November 2, 2012•News (http://holisticmarketingmanagement.ro/romanian-competition-council-report-the-romanian-competition-environment-developments-in-key-sectors/). Let us remember that on the mentioned November occasion, we also attracted attention to some ideas expressed recently by Richard Possner who recommended a fruitful application of Darwinian theory to competitive markets, taking into account that: “to determine whether a market is working well from an overall social standpoint, one has to understand the environment, and the business behavior that best enables a firm to survive and thrive in it.”
It is also worth to note that there is a clear evidence of the proper strategy of the Romanian Competition Council to improve the enforceability of its decisions. The presence, for instance, of the distinguished representatives of the Judiciary (including from the Superior Council of Magistracy, the guarantor of the independence of the judiciary system) both, at this event from May 30, and at the meeting of the Consultative Council of the Romanian Competition Council from May 28, 2013, confirms the correct understanding of the reality that competition policy results from the interplay between the Romanian Competition Council and the Judiciary, this interaction with the Judiciary (whether in the investigative phase, during the decision making process or after the Romanian Competition Council decision was made) being most effective when all judicial procedures are followed, and the reasoning of authority’s decision is based on clear and sound legal and economic analyses. It had clearly been a salutary effort of our Competition Authority to bring judges closer to the technical analysis made by the Romanian Competition Council. There is no doubt that the closer the interaction between the Romanian Competition Council and our Judicial System (by developing an improved level of mutual understanding in order to better improve the effectiveness of competition policy as a whole), the higher the number of opportunities for the Romanian Competition Council to explain or defend its decisions. Taking into account that the interventions by the Judiciary follow the binding decisions of the Romanian Competition Council, it is essential to carry out a continuous work of harmonizing the views of the Romanian Competition Council and of the judges with regard to the interpretation of the competition rules, to the standard of proof applied to competition cases, to conduct cases and fines, and the last but not least to procedural shortcomings.
Two days before the launching by the Romanian Competition Council of the “2012 Annual Activity Report”, the meeting of the Consultative Council of the Romanian Competition Council took place, on May 28, 2013, an already traditional opportunity to share ideas on competition policy and to receive feedback on these ideas and policy visions within the strong commitment of promoting the competition culture in full process of the effective implementation of the competition policy. As usual at this level, a pragmatic exchange of views was carried out between, on one hand, the President of the Romanian Competition Council, Bogdan M. Chiritoiu and the others members of the Board – Otilian B. Neagoe, Valentin V. Mircea, Dan N. Ionescu, Bujor-Bogdan Teodoriu, Lazlo Gyerko – and on the other hand, Adriana Almaşan, Florin Pogonaru, Theodor Valentin Purcarea, Gabriela Ţigu, Jonathan Scheele, Steven van Groningen, Viorel Munteanu, Anca Harasim, Natalia Roman. The technical Secretariat organizing the works of the Consultative Council was ensured by Simona Barbu and George Anglitoiu.