The European Antitrust Review 2014 Section 3: Country chapters

Bulgaria: Commission on Protection of Competition

The Commission on Protection of Competition is an independent, specialised state body whose main goal is to ensure the protection and promotion of competition and free economic initiative, including by vigilance on the lawful spending of public resources through public procurement and concession awarding procedures. The priorities in the Commission’s work are underpinned by the overall economic development objectives laid down by the Bulgarian government and the Bulgarian National Assembly, as well as by its obligation to directly apply the European competition acquis.

Over the coming year, the fight against prohibited agreements and abuse of monopoly or dominant positions will be at the forefront of the CPC’s activities. The efforts will be directed to the monitoring of sectors of the economy that are significant and sensitive for the consumers and the business. The CPC also intends to upgrade its tools for economic analysis by introducing quantitative methods for the assessment of anti-competitive conduct in its proceedings. The Commission will improve the rules of access to the case files by the parties with a view to achieve a higher degree of procedural fairness in its proceedings.

The CPC also intends to implement the best practices of the EU acquis related to the standard of proof of antitrust violations. Efforts will be made to improve the methods for proving the existence of agreements and concerted practices in the absence of direct evidence and particularly in the case of economic evidence, such as parallel movement in the competitors’ prices. The Commission will also aim to improve its approach in the assessment of the unilateral conduct of investigated undertakings by enhancing the economic analysis of their market position and behaviour, with emphasis on the overall marketing strategy of the companies which are subject to an investigation.

With regard to the control of concentrations between undertakings, efforts will be made to stimulate undertakings to contact the CPC prior to the notification of concentrations with national and supranational dimensions. In order to achieve this, the Commission will provide extensive consultations, issue opinions and promote its experience on merger control. The Commission will also apply ex post control of the conditions under which it has authorised a merger. The CPC intends to improve the procedures used for evaluation and referral of merger cases from and to the European Commission.

Competition advocacy is also one of the key priorities of the CPC. Over the coming year, efforts will be focused on the improvement and the promotion of the secondary legislation regulating the CPC’s activities. The authority envisages the update of the rules on access to file in accordance with the recent case law on the application of the Law on Protection of Ccompetition and the case law of the European Court of Justice, so as to ensure to a greater extent the protection of the right of defence of the parties. In addition, the Commission intends to initiate ex officio advocacy proceedings on significant issues in the field of competition law and policy. The agency will also raise the awareness of the business about the scope and purpose of the adopted Guidelines on corporate compliance programmes with the competition rules by circulating written brochures or presentations among business representatives, lawyers and other stakeholders, as well as by organising and participating in seminars and conferences devoted to corporate compliance programmes.

Regarding the enforcement of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) and the Concessions Act (CA), the Commission’s efforts will be focused on the legitimate distribution of public finances by:

  • achieving promptness and efficiency of investigations on appeals against decisions, actions and omissions of entities under the PPA and the CA;
  • building a constant and uncontroversial practice in the application of the PPA in order to create predictability of the decisions on similar cases;
  • harmonisation of the enforcement practice under the PPA and the CA with the current European trends; and
  • promoting the rules and the CPC’s practice in the appeal procedures under the PPA and the CA.

In the field of European affairs and international cooperation, the CPC intends to actively participate in the work of the European Competition Network (ECN), the International Competition Network (ICN) and the OECD Competition Committee. The Commission will also participate actively in international seminars, conferences and workshops where it will present the achievements in its competition practice and will exchange views on the best practices in the field of competition law enforcement.

The CPC recognises the importance of the development of regional ties in the Western Balkan region and the close cooperation between the competition authorities from the region. With this in mind, the CPC and UNCTAD established the Sofia Competition Forum (SCF) in 2012. The purpose of the SCF is to provide an informal platform for technical assistance, exchange of experience and consultations in the field of competition policy and enforcement. Over the coming year, the CPC will continue to be actively engaged in the SCF and will foster the cooperation of the competition agencies from the region by organising conferences, seminars and webinars on matters of competition law, economics and policy. The CPC will also launch a website which will further facilitate the exchange of information and experience between the members of the Forum.

The CPC priorities are set in accordance with the changing needs of the Bulgarian society and reflect the competition authority’s understanding that a successful competition policy is one which promotes free initiative in business activity, ensures the effective competitive process on the relevant markets and contributes to improving consumers’ welfare.

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