Kohustuste võtmise otsused Eesti Konkurentsameti praktikas

Kirjutasin artikli Konkurentsameti otsusest, mille puhul on menetlus lõpetatud menetlusealuse ettevõtja poolt pakutud kohustuste siduvaks muutmisega ja seeläbi idee poolest konkurentsi olukorra parandamisega.   Et artikkel ise on inglise keeles, siis olgu kokkuvõttena öeldud, et see kajastab lühidalt seniseid kohustuste võtmisega lõpetatud järelevalvemenetlusi ning annab ka hinnangu, et sellise lahenduse probleem on puudutatud turuosalistega konsulteerimise kohustuse puudumine Konkurentsameti jaoks.

Artikli avaldas BBN , vt siit: http://www.bbn.ee/article/2016/5/23/commitments-a-new-key-to-closing-competition-law-investigations . BBN poolt avaldatud versioonis küll minu poolt tõstatud probleemi (vt viimane lõik) pole, seepärast kopeerin siia ka artikli kogutektsi:

Commitments – a new key to closing competition law investigations?

The possibility of closing proceedings concerning competition law infringements by accepting binging commitments from companies suspected in competition law violations was introduced into the Estonian legal order in summer 2013. Within the last three years, the Estonian Competition Authority (ECA) has used commitment decisions already in three abuse of dominance cases to terminate its investigations.

Most recently, at the end of 2015, the ECA accepted commitments offered by Elektrilevi, the dominant distribution grid operator, which belongs to Eesti Enegria group. The case was initiated based on a complaint of several sellers of electricity, who claimed that Elektrilevi had abused its dominant position by refusing to provide electricity consumers a common invoice for electricity and network services if the consumer bought electricity from other sellers of electricity than Eesti Energia. Hence, the clients of competing electricity providers had to pay separately for electricity to their electricity providers and for network services to Elektrilevi. To resolve the competition concerns, Elektrilevi committed to develop an IT solution and standard conditions according to which all sellers of electricity in the network region of Elektrilevi would have an option to issue consumers common invoices for both electricity and network service by the beginning of 2017.

The previous case closed in a similar manner by accepting commitments concerned G4S at the end 2014. The case was initiated based on a complaint of G4S’s sole competitor Eurex who claimed that G4S had abused its dominant position in cash transport and processing services by offering unfairly low prices to those customers to whom Eurex had made offers. The ECA found that G4S was allowed to react to offers made by its competitor, but in order not to discriminate, it had to do so on equal terms to all equal clients. G4S committed to use uniform pricing matrix with respect to all larger clients by the end 1-2 year deadlines and the ECA considered this enough to resolve the competition issues. Curiously, this did not prevent Eurex from being foreclosed from the market, as G4S soon acquired Eurex. Therefore, in December 2015 the initial commitments were amended to cover also the former customers Eurex. The question remains, what competition concerns this commitment addresses now, as there are no competitors left to protect from anti-competitive exclusion. Moreover, there have been voices saying that this commitment actually resulted in the increase of overall price level.

In May 2014, the ECA closed an investigation by accepting commitments in the case concerning the district heating network operator and heat provider Tallinna Küte. The ECA was concerned that Tallinna Küte used vague criteria for choosing between its own and competitors’ heat to be transmitted through its distribution network. This could have constituted an abuse of dominance by way of refusal to supply and a violation of the obligation to grant non-discriminatory access to the district heating network as an essential facility. To address the ECA’s concerns Tallinna Küte committed to develop clear criteria for the relevant heat procurement tender and conducting such a tender at latest by the end of 2015.

As apparent from above, the possibility to close investigations by accepting commitments has proven a handy tool for both the ECA and dominant companies to solve competition problems without having to make a conclusive decision on the existence of competition law violation. However, as the law does not prescribe any obligation for the ECA to ask for the opinions of other market participants (including clients of the dominant companies), there is a risk that the commitments offered by the dominant players may fail to alleviate competition concerns or even make things worse in practice (as seems to have been the case with the commitments of G4S).

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