The project that was funded by the European Union with € 250,000 was aimed at strengthening of the administrative capacities of the Montenegrin competition authority through the training of its staff in case handling, procedural steps, particularly involving complex economic analyses, evidence collection procedures, especially during surprise inspections (dawn raids). The project was carried out by the Croatian Competition Agency in cooperation with the Agency for Protection of Competition of Montenegro, supported by the Croatian Central Finance and Contracting Agency.
The Croatian experts conducted a series of training sessions for their Montenegrin peers on the application of the provisions of the Competition Act. Seven representatives of the Montenegrin competition authority participated in a study visit to Croatia where they learned more about the Croatian practice and gained valuable insights into the work of the Croatian colleagues in solving the cases in the field of competition. Particularly beneficial was the visit to the IT forensics lab where digital evidence collected during surprise inspections is processed.
In his complimentary speech, Herman Spitz, head of Cooperation in the European Union Delegation to Montenegro, emphasized the importance of this project for the future work of the Agency for Protection of Competition, since competition policy is one of the cornerstones of the internal market. “It is of key importance to ensure an adequate number of competent experts in this particularly complex area. Also, permanent and strong political support is necessary for the Agency to carry out its mandate,” Spitz pointed out.
The ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Montenegro, Veselko Grubišić, emphasized that the strengthening of the institutional and technical capacity of the Agency for Protection of Competition bears great significance for creating a level playing field for all businesses in Montenegro.
Lepa Aleksić, director of the Agency for Protection of Competition of Montenegro, emphasized that the project fully met the expectations in terms of staff training. The evidence, she pointed out, was already present regarding the progress in the enforcement record and the commencement of a surprised inspection that was carried out after extensive preparations and the support they got from the Croatian colleagues. “Through this project we have established lasting links between our authorities, not only at the level of the heads of the institutions, but also at the operational level of the expert staff who will surely continue to share their experience,” said Aleksić.
Branimira Kovačević, head of the International and European Co-operation in the Croatian Competition Agency, pointed out the recommendations for further work of the Montenegrin Agency, regarding both the further improvement of the legal framework and the strengthening of awareness of the Agency’s work in the public and its importance for the Montenegrin economy.
“It is important to continue with more training activities for the Montenegrin staff, but also to involve other institutions and businesses active in the market, in order to protect competition and ensure a level playing field for the benefit of the Montenegrin companies and final consumers,” said Kovačević.