Bulgarian competition watchdog - CPC, has released a statement on how it intends to apply the competition rules during the COVID-19 crisis.

At first place, CPC announces that it shares the common position of the European Commission and the NCAs from ECN member states (available at https://ec.europa.eu/competition/ecn/202003_joint-statement_ecn_corona-crisis.pdf).

While the market operators are reminded that competition law continues to apply even in these extraordinary circumstances, the regulator expresses explicitly its readiness to provide informal guidance on any specific initiatives they plan to implement.

CPC informs that it will monitor closely the markets of foods, pharmaceuticals and sanitary products, such as masks and sanitizers, for any anti-competitive practices, including excessive pricing, and if such are established, would not hesitate to exercise its enforcement powers.

At the same time CPC might be ready to take a more relaxed approach when it comes to coordinating measures in the food industry and the respective distribution chain, provided that such measures are temporary, necessary and proportionate in aiming to avoid a shortage and interruption in supplies.

In line with the shared position of EC and ECN, CPC explicitly mentions the maximum resale price as a mechanism, which the producers may use in order to prevent excessive pricing across the distribution chain. It is, however, important to note that these should not operate in practice as fixed prices.

It could have been said more straightforward, than it is, but it appears that CPC would seek to balance the protection of competition against safeguarding higher values, such as public health, especially in the crisis situation.

Against this background and as part of the anti-epidemic measures, CPC suspended its sessions till 13 April 2020 (inclusive).

Date: 30 March 2020

Source: Spasov & Bratanov Lawyers' Partnership

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