Building a better competition framework – AdC
Portugal’s Autoridade da Concorrencia (AdC) has faced the financial crisis with a policy that there should be no deviation from strong competition enforcement and advocacy, says its President Manuel Sebastião.
“Good institutions and good laws make a good country. We are obliged to consider all possible competition infringements and in line with this our focus is towards sectors and practices that have a major impact on consumers and the functioning of the market.”
The AdC has had demonstrable success, including reducing average merger notification periods down from 1.8 to 1.4 months, but the downturn has seen it face challenges in terms of its own budget constraints, says Sebastião. Total expenditure in 2010 was €8.6m against an original budget of €10.7m.
“Resources are limited so we need to focus on greater efficiency. Our target was to close 2010 without any cases on the books older than three years from the date it was opened to the final decision. This objective was reached.”
The AdC can now use its resources more effectively and reach decisions more quickly but still build on solid legal grounds, he says. With anti-cartel enforcement and the telecoms sector, specifically pay TV content, as the priorities for 2011.
“In addition, we are looking to strengthen accountability, transparency and the links with our stakeholders, as well as to further improve the efficiency and speed of investigations and legal processes,” says Sebastião.
Portugal has only recently had its first leniency prosecutions but they showed that the regime works, emerging developments will further prove the point.
“A competitive culture is crucial for the functioning of a market, and the legal community cannot be faulted if they use all the means of defence at their disposal. Whether these means are adequate or excessive is something that warrants the attention of those responsible for the legislation – who we hope will support our ambition of improving the domestic legal framework.”