The European Antitrust Review 2014 • Section 3: Country chapters
Cyprus: Commission for the Protection of Competition
The Law 13(I)/2008 on the Protection of Competition and the Law 22(I)/99 on the Control of Concentrations constitute the main legal instruments for the enforcement of competition policy in Cyprus. The competition law in Cyprus is fully aligned with Community Law. In particular, section 3 of the Law 13(I)/2008 is identical to the wording of article 101(1) TFEU. Section 6 (1) of the Law 13(I)/2008 establishes the infringement for an abuse of dominant position and is identical to article 102 TFEU. Section 6(2), however, contains an additional provision prohibiting any ‘abuse by one or more undertakings, of a relationship of economic dependence [...]’. The Law 22(I)/99 on the control of concentrations aims to prevent the creation or strengthening of a dominant position.
During 2012, the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) received 18 new complaints regarding infringements of the Law No. 13(I)/2008, initiated two ex officio investigations and examined four applications for interim measures. The Commission also examined 37 new concentrations between enterprises, based on Law No. 22(I)/99.
Overall, the CPC reviewed 82 cases in 2012. It issued:
- 20 decisions relating to complaints for infringements of Law No. 13(I)/2008;
- four decisions in relation to interim measures;
- 40 decisions relating to the law on concentrations Law No. 22(I)/99;
- one decision based on section 30 of the Law No. 13 (I)/2008 relating to non-provision of information;
- 17 decisions related to withdrawals of complaints and rejection of complaints that were not submitted according to the provisions of the Law.
Of the above-mentioned decisions, 13 related to the imposition of fines totalling €4.8 million for infringements in various sectors of the economy. In relation to Law No. 22(I)/1999, the fines concerned the failure to notify within the set time limit and for implementing the concentration without prior approval by the Commission.
Most infringement decisions related to abuse of dominance (section 6 of the Law). The most important ones concerned the electronic communications sector and, in particular, the provision of retail broadband access and retail pay TV; fees for the activation of four-digit numbers for premium SMS; the supply of premium SMS with the billing at the termination of the message (Premium SMS – Mobile Termination); and the Premium SMS service. Infringements were also found in the markets for the supply of industrial gas cylinders by applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions, thereby placing certain undertakings at a competitive disadvantage; abuse of dominance by the Airport Operator in the market for the provision of long-term parking services to passengers of Larnaca Airport travelling abroad; and the provision of port services by the Porters’ Association.
One infringement decision was issued against a firm active in the household appliances market for abusing its relationship of economic dependence with its distributor in Cyprus. A fine was also imposed on an undertaking for not providing the Commission with the required information, pursuant to section 30(3) of the Law 13(I)/2008, for an investigation in the postal services sector.
In addition to the infringement decisions, the CPC issued an interim order ordering the supply of raw milk by the cattle farmers’ organisation to a dairy producer under the provisions of sections 23(2) and 28 of the Law 13(I)/2008; two other applications for interim orders were rejected (one for the supply of milk and the other for the supply of automotive fuel).
In the field of merger control, all merger cases notified to the CPC in 2012 were cleared in Phase I under article 18 of the Law 22(I)/99. Two notified concentrations were in breach of the Law as the parties had failed to notify the concentration to the CPC and had, moreover, implemented the concentration and were thus fined. Furthermore, the CPC, after receiving a request for referral pursuant to article 22(5) of the EC Merger Regulation, referred one concentration to the European Commission in accordance to the provisions of article 22(1). This concentration related to the acquisition of Olympic Airways Services SA by Aegean Airlines SA.
From a legal perspective, the leniency programme as secondary legislation was implemented. The CPC has also prepared and promoted a draft proposal for the amendment of the Law 22(I)/99 on the Control of Concentrations. The CPC also offered opinions to other public bodies on issues of its competence.
Beyond the important cases and legislative proposals, the CPC organised a number of events in 2012 in an effort to enhance competition culture. The most important event was the Conference for the European Competition Day, organised under the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
In the current times of severe economic problems for the consumer and extremely tight budgetary constraints for public authorities, the CPC will concentrate its enforcement actions on unearthing cartels and other restrictive practices that take advantage of both consumers and public authorities. Greater emphasis will be placed in the public procurement sector and the markets for foodstuffs and other widely used consumer products in order to safeguard public funds and consumers’ income. The CPC also intends to increase its advocacy efforts in the sectors of energy, a sector of significantly increasing importance for the Cypriot economy, and the financial services, after the sector has been restructured and stabilised.
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