From the enforcer: Estonian Competition Authority

Estonia: from the enforcer

Address: Tatari 39, Tallinn 10134, Estonia
Tel: +372 667 2400
Fax: +372 667 2401
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.konkurentsiamet.ee

Contacts

Märt Ots
Director General
Email: [email protected]

Kristel Rõõmusaar
Head of the Competition Division, Deputy Director General
Email: [email protected]

Juhan Põldroos
Head of the Supervisory Department
Email: [email protected]

Külliki Lugenberg
Head of the Merger Control Department
Email: [email protected]

Maarja Uulits
Head of External and Public Relations
Email: [email protected]

Questions and answers

How long is the head of agency’s term of office?

As per the Civil Service Act, the director general of the Estonian Competition Authority (ECA) is chosen by way of public competition performed by the Civil Service Committee for the Selection of Top Managers. Based on the results, the director general of the ECA will be appointed and dismissed from office by the minister of justice on the proposal of the secretary general. The director general is appointed for term of five years.

Which posts within the organisation are political appointments?

None.

What is the agency’s annual budget?

Approximately €1.99 million.

How many staff are employed by the agency?

The number of employees and officials is currently 45.

To whom does the head of the agency report?

As per its statutes, the ECA is a governmental agency that operates within the area of government of the Ministry of Justice, has a directing function and exercises state supervision and applies enforcement powers of the state on the bases and to the extent prescribed by law. The ECA is accountable to the Minister of Justice who will direct, coordinate and supervise the ECA’s activities.

Do any industry-specific regulators have competition powers?

No. The ECA carries out supervision tasks in the fields of competition, regulations of energy, water, postal communications and railways. The ECA also resolves disputes concerning airport fees and processes airport users’ complaints against the activities of the airport manager.

If so, how do these relate to your role?

Not applicable.

Do politicians have any right to overrule or disregard the decisions of the authority?

No.

Does the law allow non-competition aims to be considered when taking decisions?

The law does not contain specific instructions regarding consideration of non-competition aims by the ECA.

According to its practice, the ECA has considered aims concerning the environmental and health protection.

Which body hears appeals against the agency’s decisions? Is there any form of judicial review beyond that mentioned above? If so, which body conducts this?

The complaints regarding the administrative acts (decisions, precepts) of the ECA can be filed to the Tallinn Administrative Court, which is the first instance for the administrative cases. The appeal of the court decision goes to Tallinn Circuit Court. The third instance is the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in Estonia and reviews court judgments by way of cassation proceedings.

County courts (for example, Harju County Court, Viru County Court, Tartu County Court and Pärnu County Court) hear appeals against decisions of the ECA made in misdemeanour proceedings. The appeal against the decision of county court can be filed directly to the Supreme Court.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger?

Yes, on four occasions:

  • the merger between Terve Pere Apteek OÜ and OÜ Saku Apteek, concerning wholesale and retail of pharmaceuticals, blocked by the decision of 8 May 2008 No. 3.1-8/08-020KO;
  • the merger between AS Eesti Post and AS Express Post, concerning postal services, blocked by the decision of 16 September 2011 No. 5.1-5/11-021; and
  • the merger between OÜ R-S Valdus and part of Aktsiaselts Väätsa Prügila, concerning the waste management sector, blocked by the decision of 21 September 2018 No. 5-5/2018-058.
  • The merger between Estravel Holding OÜ and Aktsiaselts Wris, concerning the travel services market, blocked by the decision of 15.08.2019 No. 5-5/2019-043.

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger?

The Competition Authority cannot impose conditions, but the parties can take obligations. There have been several cases where the merging parties have taken upon themselves to perform the obligations they had assumed.

Permission to concentrate with obligations was granted in 2003 to three mergers, in 2004 to one merger and in 2005 to one merger. In 2005, the ECA gave approval to Elion Ettevõtted AS, a wholly owned subsidiary of AS Eesti Telekom, to purchase MicroLink AS, the leading Baltic IT services company. MicroLink Eesti AS will continue independently in the Elion Group. According to the decision of the ECA, MicroLink had to sell its fibre-optic network based on Ethernet technology and contracts, as well as knowledge related to this network. The cases with conditions were in 2011 and 2012, both concerning the markets for the production and distribution of thermal energy. The last cases with imposed conditions were in 2017, 2018 and 2019 concerning the market for the retail sale of motor fuel.

Has the authority ever pursued a company based outside your jurisdiction for a cartel offence?

No.

Do you operate a leniency programme? Whom should potential applicants contact?

At the beginning of 2010, parliament adopted the amendments of the Competition Act, the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. The amendments introduce a specific leniency programme into the Estonian legal system. The principles for leniency are based on the ECN Leniency Programme that has been taken into consideration, while considering specific circumstances of the national system. Because of the criminal enforcement system, leniency-related tasks and activities have been divided between the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the ECA. The leniency application shall be submitted to the ECA. The Public Prosecutor’s Office shall terminate the criminal proceedings if the applicant and the application is in conformance with the conditions for leniency. The relevant person to contact is:

Juhan Põldroos
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +372 667 2450

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it?

The person who coordinates authority’s activities regarding criminal investigations is:

Juhan Põldroos
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +372 667 2450

Are there any plans to reform the competition law?

Yes, there are plans to reform the competition law due to the transposition of the ECN+ Directive.

When did the last review of the law occur?

The most recent amendments entered into force on 5 June 2017. Mainly these were additions and improvements about the adoption of the European Parliament and the Council Directive 2014/104/EU. Amendments that were made in the Competition Act facilitates claims for compensation for damage when there has been a harmful cooperation between undertakings and abuse of a dominant position.

It is also important to mention that, with the most last amendment, the ECA has the right to exercise administrative control over the compliance of the Competition Act. Also, it is important that the ECA can issue a precept to a local government or to other state authorities when their activities are not in accordance with the Competition Act.

With the recent amendments, there is now a regulation that regulates the transfer of the direct financial damage. Also, there were changes about the expiry of the claim and gathering evidence and the admissibility of the evidence.

Do you have a separate economics team? If so, please give details.

The ECA has no separate economics team, but there is a chief economist.


Estonia: from the enforcer's competition economists

Address: Tatari 39, 10134 Tallinn, Estonia
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +372 667 2400
Fax: +372 667 2401
Web: www.konkurentsiamet.ee

Contacts

Kristel Rõõmusaar
Head of Competition Division
Email: [email protected]

Juhan Põldroos
Head of Supervisory Department - Chief Economist
Email: [email protected]

Külliki Lugenberg
Head of Merger Control Department
Email: [email protected]

Anna Mazur
Adviser, Supervisory Department
Email: [email protected]

Svetlana Ljutova
Adviser, Merger Control Department
Email: [email protected]

Kairi Kaasik-Aaslav
Senior Analyst, Merger Control Department
Email: [email protected]

Questions and answers

How many economists do you employ?

The Competition Authority employs seven economists in the competition division.

Do you have a separate economics unit?

We do not have a separate economics unit; all of the economists are distributed between two different
departments.

Do you have a chief economist?

Yes, we have a chief economist.

To whom does the chief economist report?

The chief economist reports to the director general and to the head of Competition Division.

Does the chief economist have the power to hire his or her own staff?

No.

How many of your economists have a PhD in industrial economics?

None.

Does the agency include a specialist economist on every case team? If not, why not?

Yes, one or more economists are included in every case team.

Is the economics unit a ‘second pair of eyes’ during cases – is it one of the agency’s checks and balances? If not, why not?

Not applicable.

How much economics work is outsourced? What type of work is outsourced?

The Competition Authority does not outsource economics very often, the need for specific analyses is estimated on a case-by-case basis. The Authority has mostly outsourced economics work from the universities.

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