CCA international conference „Exchange of information between competitors, fixing prices or price components – the role of professional associations and chambers “

The opening keynote was delivered by Mladen Cerovac, president of the Competition Council, who particularly stressed the importance of information exchange in the digital era, where automated systems and pricing algorithms are used to help execute the cartel’s task and has the same effect as a cartel executed by humans. Where the computer merely facilitates the task which humans would otherwise have carried out brings new challenges to competition authorities and legislators and undertakings who have to be alert not to cross the “thin red line” between the practices that are allowed and those that are prohibited.

Marija Vučković, state secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture continued that there is often only a slight difference between the exchange of information that is allowed and the restriction of competition that is prohibited between the undertakings in an association of professionals. For example, traders may pool together and bid jointly whereas any coordination concerning their sales activities would be considered hardcore restriction in price fixing.

Josip Zaher, the vice-president of the Croatian Chamber of the Economy for Tourism, Trade and Finances pointed out that professional associations should serve as a point of dialogue about the issues that are vital for the industry or sector they represent. However, the meetings of the members of professional organisations often serve as a place for prohibited information exchange. This is also why their statutes, rules of conduct and other rules that are not necessarily binding for the members are also subject to the scrutiny of competition authorities. Ho

Damir Kaufman, secretary general at the Ministry of the Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts and Manica Hauptman, deputy head of the European Commission Representation in Croatia, acknowledged the operation of the Croatian Competition Agency in the past 21 years and supported its future activities in the implementation of competition rules.

Two panels were run at the conference: the first entitled “Information exchange in cartels” was moderated by Jasminka Pecotić Kaufman, PhD, from the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb whereas the panellists were Despina Pachnou, policy analyst OECD Competition Committee, professor Filip Tuytschaever, lawyer and lecturer, University Brussels and Wojciech Dorabialski, head of competition department from the Polish authority for consumer protection and competition. The second panel under the title “Information exchange within chambers or professional associations – what is allowed and what is prohibited” was moderated by Vlatka Butorac Malnar, PhD, Faculty of Law University of Rijeka whereas Josip Čulić, head of Department for prohibited agreements in the CCA, Ivo Jerkić, member of the Competition Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Gianluca Sepe, head of EU Affairs at the Italian competition authority participated in the discussion.

The conference was visited by a number of national and foreign experts in the area of competition law and policy who used this opportunity to exchange their experience and a long year practice.

You can download panel presentations in the following links:

Despina Pachnou OECD

Filip Tuytschaever

Wojciech Dorabialski

Ivo Jerkić

We are looking forward to meeting you again next year at the 22nd CCA international competition conference.