International Competition Network

During the past year, the ICN has delivered new work product and substantial, concrete results, many of which were presented at the annual conference hosted by the Turkish competition authority in April 2010. An executive summary1provides an overview of all new work product, notably new Recommended Practices for substantive merger analysis on market definition and failing firm analysis adopted by ICN members at the conference, and new work addressing digital evidence gathering in cartel investigations and cartel case initiation.

An ICN Statement of Achievements2prepared for the conference demonstrates the influence of the tremendous body of ICN's work (eg, recommended practices, case-handling and enforcement manuals, reports, templates on legislation and rules in different jurisdictions, workshops, webinars) on ICN members' enforcement activities and advocacy initiatives.

During this past year the ICN also welcomed new members, including the competition agencies for CARICOM and Ecuador from the Americas, increasing membership to 112 competition agencies from around the globe.3Non-member (NGA) participation was also enhanced, including through the appointment of an NGA liaison to facilitate outreach.4

New initiatives

Celebrating a decade of existence in October 2011, the network is using this anniversary as an opportunity to engage in an organisational self-assessment and long term planning. The Second Decade project involves gathering feedback through group discussions at the annual conference, surveys, and individual member and NGA consultations. This feedback will be used to prepare a vision statement for the ICN's next decade, to complement the long-term vision statements for each substantive working group that were prepared in early 2010.

Based on group discussions at the last annual conference and individual consultations with more than 75 members, the feedback thus far is overwhelmingly positive. Nearly all agencies and NGAs indicated that networking and relationships were the principle benefits they have gained from their involvement in the ICN. Most members also cited specific examples of how the ICN work product influenced their enforcement and policy activities. The Recommended Practices for Merger Notification and Review Procedures and the Anti-Cartel Enforcement Manual were most frequently cited as important in effecting change.

Under the leadership of the US Federal Trade Commission and South African NGA David Lewis, the ICN also began a pilot project to create a comprehensive curriculum of training materials to serve as a virtual university on competition law and practice for competition agency officials. Training modules, consisting of video lectures and accompanying materials from a diverse group of international academics and practitioners, will provide an on-line interactive educational center for competition authorities from around the world.

The ICN has improved communications, launching a new website in January 2010, as well as a weblog highlighting ICN events and products and member and general competition news, ICNBlog. The ICN also prepared an 'introduction to ICN' presentation for people interested in learning more about the network.

Ongoing work

The Cartel Working Group is engaged in an experience-sharing project on cartel awareness and outreach programmes, including partnership initiatives with government and commercial procurement officials, the business community and the private bar. The working group is also preparing a new chapter for the Anti-Cartel Enforcement Manual on case resolution. The Unilateral Conduct Working Group has begun a 'workbook' on the analysis of unilateral conduct, and plans to hold webinars on important topics and cases. The Merger Working Group, active for nearly a decade, is undertaking a comprehensive assessment of its existing work product and membership needs in order to identify priority work for the future.

The Advocacy Working Group is finalising a 'Market Studies Information Store', an online resource of market studies conducted by ICN member agencies within the last five years, and plans to create a similar resource for advocacy activities. The group will continue to hold teleseminars on specialised topics. The Agency Effectiveness Working Group continues work on an operational manual, finalising a chapter on effective project delivery and developing a new chapter on knowledge management. Each year the ICN conference host leads a special project, and for the 2011 annual conference the Dutch competition authority is engaged in a project on the role of consumer welfare in antitrust enforcement.

Upcoming events

The ICN will host a cartel workshop on October 5-7 in Yokohama, a merger workshop November 3-4 in Rome, and a unilateral conduct workshop December 2-3 in Brussels. The next annual conference will be held May 17-20 in The Hague, Netherlands.

Notes

1
. www.internationalcompetitionnetwork.org/uploads/library/doc629.pdf

2
. www.internationalcompetitionnetwork.org/uploads/library/doc630.pdf

3
. A complete list of ICN members is available on the ICN's website.

4
. NGAs are non-governmental experts, including private practitioners, representatives of international organisations, industry and consumer groups, and academics. To become an NGA, or for more information, see the ICN website.

About the author

Maria Coppola is a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School, doing research on international networks and international antitrust. She is on leave from her position as counsel for international antitrust at the US Federal Trade Commission. At the US FTC, she is responsible for the agency's participation in the International Competition Network and bilateral relationships with competition agencies in Latin America. Previously, she was a staff attorney working on antitrust and consumer protection matters.

Get unlimited access to all Global Competition Review content