Competition Law in the New Member States - Where Do We Come from? Where Do We Go?
MODERNISATION AND ENLARGEMENT: TWO MAJOR CHALLENGES FOR EC COMPETITION LAW, Intersentia, 2005
32 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2004
The European Union (hereafter, the "EU") has recently undergone its fifth and most expansive enlargement. As a result of the Accession Treaty of 16 April 2003, ten countries joined the EU on 1 May 2004: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. This group comprises a mixed bag of countries including Central and Eastern European countries (the "CEECs"), Baltic countries, and Mediterranean countries. While the CEECs and the Baltic countries share a common past characterised by the rise of Communism after the Second World War, Cyprus and Malta were never part of the Soviet empire. Moreover, these last two countries have long been associated with the Union, whereas the relationship of the former communist countries with the EU is more recent.
Against this background, this paper analyses the development of competition law regimes in the new Member States. This development has taken place as a direct consequence of the Association/Europe agreements, which were signed between these countries and the EU (and which contain competition rules equivalent to those found in the EC Treaty), and the accession process (which required that these countries implement EC competition rules in their domestic law). These agreements and the accession process have been very effective tools to stimulate the development of competition law regimes in the new Member States, but at the time of entry of these countries in the EU several important challenges remain. First, enforcement remains a problem in most new Member States. As will be seen below, this is due to a variety of structural weaknesses (lack of resources, poor understanding of competition law by companies, etc.), which will not necessarily be easy to resolve. Second, accession arrives at a time of major reforms of EC competition law (modernisation, increased reliance on economic analysis, etc.), which will put further pressure on the scarce resources of the competition authorities of the new Member States. It will also force them to invest significant intellectual capital in the understanding of such reforms, as well as their implementation in their enforcement processes.
Keywords: EC, competition, antitrust, new Member States, institutional building, European enlargement
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