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CPC Institutes Proceedings on the Market for Primary School Books

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition has instituted antitrust proceedings ex officio against affiliated companies KLETT IZDAVAČKA KUĆA, PRIVREDNO DRUŠTVO ZA IZDAVAČKU DELATNOST NOVI LOGOS, and IZDAVAČKA KUĆA FRESKA – Klett Group, to establish the existence of abuse of dominance, within the meaning of Article 16 of the Law on Protection of Competition, which restricts competition on the market for primary school books in the Republic of Serbia, and carried out dawn raids at their business premises.

Based on the conducted analysis of competitive conditions on the market for primary school books in the Republic of Serbia, including other obtained information and documentation, the Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Klett Group, as a group with significant market share, since 2014 has conducted business strategies described in the Conclusion instituting proceedings, which derogate from the regular competitive conditions on the market. In particular, this implies mainly preventing or hindering new competitors from entering the market, pricing and rebate policy, and deals for schools in procedures for selecting textbooks.

The Commission, therefore, found reasonable grounds to believe that said companies since 2014, including but not limited to, have directly or indirectly imposed unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair conditions of trade, restricted market and refused cooperation, which as a consequence has or may have significant restriction, distortion or prevention of competition on the market for primary school books in the Republic of Serbia, which represents an abuse of dominance (Article 16 of the Law).

All persons in possession of data, documents or other relevant information that could contribute to the accurate fact-finding in this proceedings are invited to notify the Commission for Protection of Competition accordingly, by presenting said evidence at the address: 25 Savska St., 4th Floor, Belgrade.

National Assembly Adopts CPC Annual Activity Report 2020

kzkAt the Second Sitting of the Second Regular Session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in 2021, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Annual Activity Report of the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) 2020.

CPC President Nebojša Perić presented to the National Assembly the results of operations in 2020, achieved during the first year of the CPC Council’s new term.

The summary of key activities of the Commission in 2020 provides an overview of antitrust investigations; exemptions of restrictive agreements from prohibition; merger control proceedings; results of sector and inquiries into competitive conditions on individual markets; issued opinions; CPC activities in the process of accession to the European Union under Chapter 8; competition advocacy activities and measures; accomplished national and international cooperation, including CPC activities to implement international projects.

During 2020, the Commission worked on 22 cases, seven of which were closed. Also, it has instituted eight new proceedings, seven of which to establish the existence of restrictive agreements and one that concerned the abuse of dominance. In five instituted proceedings, the Commission conducted 18 dawn raids in total, which is the highest number since the establishment of the Commission carried out during a reporting period. By all parameters (instituted and closed proceedings, dawn raids), the year 2020 was the most productive period for antitrust investigations.

Also, 134 merger notifications were filed in 2020, while the Commission completed four sector inquiries and launched two, which will be completed by the end of 2021.

According to the Activity Report, despite difficulties caused by the outbreak of the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, the Commission closed the year of 2020 with improved measurable operational indicators in almost all areas of protection of competition on the market of the Republic of Serbia.

CPC Institutes Proceedings on the Coffee Market

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition has instituted antitrust proceedings ex officio against companies Atlantic Grupa – Zagreb, Atlantic Brands – Beograd, and Strauss Adriatic – Šimanovci to investigate the existence of restrictive agreements referred to in Article 10 of the Law on Protection of Competition, which restrict competition on the coffee market in the Republic of Serbia, and has conducted dawn raids.

In May and June 2021, the Commission launched an inquiry into competitive conditions in retail sale in non-specialized stores with selected food items in the Republic of Serbia. The inquiry, inter alia, covered the retail pricing trends regarding individual coffee brands and their interrelation during the observed period, 2015-2020.

The inquiry pointed out that the wholesale coffee market is a market with few undertakings, concentrated and stable, and with two large undertakings whose market share from 2013-2020 has not dropped below 80%. It is assessed that the market has a structure that is conducive to facilitating agreements between competitors.

The Commission found grounds to believe that companies Atlantic Grupa and Strauss Adriatic, as the two largest undertakings on the wholesale market for grounded coffee in the Republic of Serbia, as well as the two largest competitors, have concerted mutual business strategies on the prices of grounded coffee in the Republic of Serbia.

In this manner, the companies concerned would replace the mutual competition with cooperation, while the said behavior as its purpose or effect has a significant restriction, distortion or prevention of competition in the territory of the Republic of Serbia within the meaning of Article 10 of the Law, which stipulates that restrictive agreements may be contracts, certain contract provisions, express or tacit agreements, concerted practices, as well as decisions of associations of undertakings, which in particular, directly or indirectly, set the purchase or selling prices or other conditions of trade.

All persons in possession of data, documents or other relevant information that could contribute to the accurate fact-finding in this proceedings are invited to forthwith notify the Commission for Protection of Competition accordingly, by presenting said evidence at 25 Savska St., 4th Floor, Belgrade.

Commission Institutes Proceedings Against MAT-REAL ESTATE

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition instituted proceedings ex officio against company MAT-REAL ESTATE d.o.o. to investigate a merger implemented prior to obtaining clearance under the Law on Protection of Competition, which is, based on reasonable grounds to believe, created by acquisition of control on the part of MAT-REAL ESTATE over AKCIONARSKO DRUŠTVO ZA PROIZVODNJU RADIJATORA, KOTLOVA I USLUŽNOG LIVA RADIJATOR, BEOGRAD – STARI GRAD – IN BANKRUPTCY, presently RADIJATOR DOO ZRENJANIN.

In the investigation procedure, the Commission will evaluate the criteria stipulated by the Law (Article 19 of the LPC) that govern the permissibility of concentrations and in particular, circumstances of the case pertaining to the merger implemented prior to obtaining clearance, which was an obligation of the undertaking concerned.

The Law stipulates that concentrations of undertakings are permitted, unless they significantly restrict, distort or prevent competition on the market of the Republic of Serbia or its part, and especially if that restriction, distortion or prevention is the result of creating or strengthening of a dominant position.

The Commission will also establish the essential facts, evidence and other elements on which its decision will be based, regarding potential measures for protection of competition or deconcentration measures of whatever was subject to undue concentration.

Based on the Conclusion instituting proceedings, all persons in possession of data, documents or other relevant information that could contribute to the accurate fact-finding in this proceedings, are invited to forthwith notify the Commission for Protection of Competition accordingly, by presenting said evidence at 25 Savska St., 4th Floor, Belgrade.

Parliamentary Committee Adopts CPC Activity Report

kzkAt the 22nd sitting, members of the Committee on the Economy, Regional Development, Trade, Tourism and Energy reviewed and unanimously adopted the 2020 Annual Activity Report of the Commission for Protection of Competition.

The Report was presented by President of the Commission Nebojša Perić, indicating the operational results in the past year, during which – despite extraordinary circumstances caused by COVID-19 in 2020, the Commission successfully performed the tasks under its competence.

Following a debate, the Committee members ascertained a Conclusion Proposal on the reviewed Report saying the Report is accepted, and forwarded it to the National Assembly for consideration and adoption.

The sitting was attended by the Committee members and deputy members, and members of the Council of the Commission for Protection of Competition.

Closing conference of the Twinning project “Further Development of Protection of Competition in Serbia”

kzkThe closing online conference has completed the EU Twinning project “Further Development of Protection of Competition in Serbia”, jointly implemented by the Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia and the Italian Competition Authority as Twinning partners.

The purpose of the project was to contribute to the further harmonization of national competition legislation with the EU acquis, its efficient enforcement and raising awareness on competition law and policy among all relevant actors.

Among the most important project results are the drafting of recommendations for further harmonization of national legislation, improvement of capacities of the Commission for Protection of Competition, judiciary, government officials, and market operators and regulators in the more practical application of competition law and raising awareness of the public on competition policy, and the implementation of sustainable competition advocacy programs.

The project “Further Development of Protection of Competition in Serbia” was realized under the Twinning initiative launched by the European Commission to assist candidate countries in their efforts to strengthen their administrative and judicial capacity for the implementation of the EU acquis. The project budget is about one million euros and is implemented from January 2019 to July 2021. The contracting authority is the Ministry of Finance, Department for Contracting and Financing of EU funded programmes (CFCU).

Report on the Sector Inquiry into Competitive Conditions on the Tour Operators Market, 2017-2019

kzkUnder Article 47 of the Law on Protection of Competition, the Commission launched a sector inquiry into competitive conditions on the tour operators market.

The subject of the sector inquiry was the establishment of relations between competitors on the market concerned, tour operators, including the estimate of their market share and relative power, in addition to the analysis of (contractual) relations between tour operators and travel guarantee providers.

The main purpose of the sector inquiry was the identification of weaknesses in the market structure and potential issues in terms of intensifying competition, restriction or any other form of disruption or prevention of competition affecting the undertakings.

The market analysis was conducted based on the information obtained, in particular concerning the provision of travel guarantees necessary for the issuance of travel licenses under the Law on Tourism.

The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to all undertakings providing information during the inquiry drafting process.

CPC Response to Pištaljka Portal

kzkTo keep the public accurately informed about the Commission’s operations, a response was provided to the Pištaljka.rs web portal on the article “Commission for Protection of Competition in Business Dealings with a Company That It Has Charged for Bid Rigging”, published on 5 May 2021.

1. The Commission for Protection of Competition did not conduct a public procurement procedure or selected bidders for the procurement of an official agency’s vehicle of the Škoda brand, carried out in 2018. Since the Commission is one of the contracting authorities from the List of Contracting Authorities specified by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, on behalf of which the Administration for Joint Services of the Republic Bodies conducts centralized public procurements and signs framework agreements with suppliers, it has no rights or possibility to independently conduct a public procurement procedure or select suppliers. Following a centralized public procurement carried out by the authorized authority, the Commission as a user under the framework agreement signs an individual agreement with the selected supplier.

2. The Commission for Protection of Competition imposed a measure for protection of competition against undertakings – Auto kuća Čačak and others, for standard contracts signed with its dealers/repairers that contain the provisions on resale price maintenance (RPM), which is recognized as a restrictive agreement and an infringement of competition referred to in Article 10(2/1) of the Law on Protection of Competition, as indicated in the enacting terms of the CPC Decision (http://www.kzk.gov.rs/kzk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Resenje-Auto-Cacak-i-dr.-converted.pdf), and not as a bid-rigging in public procurements.

Lectures on Competition

kzkRepresentatives of the Commission for Protection of Competition and the Italian competition authority held a two-day seminar on competition protection for students of economics and law at the Faculty of Law, University of Kragujevac.

The lectures are implemented to promote the competition culture among the academia under the two-year EU-funded Twinning Project “Further Development of Protection of Competition in Serbia”, jointly implemented by competition authorities of the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Italy. The Project activities also envisage holding seminars for students of the Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš Universities.

The purpose of the Project is to contribute to further harmonization of national legislation governing antitrust with the Acquis Communautaire, its efficient enforcement, and raising awareness on competition law and policy among all relevant actors in the Republic of Serbia.

Press Release of the Commission

kzkThe Council of the Commission for Protection of Competition exempted the agreements from prohibition subject to conditions, concluded by companies Telekom Srbija a.d. Beograd and Telenor d.o.o. Beograd, on the use of optic infrastructure, and imposed measures and deadlines thereof.

Due to the public interest in the case, as well as inaccurate and misleading information presented during the procedure, to inform the public accordingly, the Commission will publish the full version of the decision with expositions not containing provisions applicable to the protection of information once the procedural conditions are met, that is, once it decides on the requests of the companies for data protection (Article 45 of the Law on Protection of Competition).