The Office has Published the English Version of Its Annual Report 2022

The Office for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter referred to as "the Office") has published the English version of its Annual report for 2022. In the publication you will find complete statistical data, an overview of the most important events and solved cases in the areas of competition protection, public procurement supervision, significant market power and State aid.

Annual Report 2022Last year, the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union was an important milestone for the entire state administration. The Office also prepared for this important role within the framework of its substantive competences and in the second half of the year it fulfilled this task both in Brussels during the preparation of EU regulations and on the domestic scene by organising important conferences and professional events.

During the Presidency, representatives of the Office, together with representatives of the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the European Union in Brussels, chaired the Working Party on Competition and coordinated negotiations between Member States on a number of forthcoming legislative acts. Among the most important are the Regulation on foreign subsidies distorting competition, the Enabling Regulation on State aid in rail, inland waterway and multimodal transport sector, and negotiations on revisions of other EU legislation, such as the Regulation on block exemptions for horizontal agreements or the Communication on the definition of relevant market.

At the same time, we attracted the top European competition policy makers to the Czech Republic for the European Competition Day conference. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, was one of them. We also hosted a meeting of the representatives of the First Instance Public Procurement Review Bodies and the ECN Cartels Working Group.

In terms of the Office's decision making, we imposed one of the highest fines in history in the area of domestic competition protection, almost CZK 280 million for a cartel agreement between meal voucher issuers. The fine is currently not final, but the case is interesting because of the unusual way of competition restriction. High fines also continued to be imposed for vertical agreements. Experience shows that this is a very widespread anticompetitive behaviour affecting whole industries or sectors.

Also, in 2022, the Office again achieved the record number of on-site inspections conducted when the representatives of the Office made unannounced visits to three dozen firms looking for evidence of anticompetitive conduct. However, as the number of inspections increases, so does the number of undertakings which refuse to comply with an inspection. We were therefore forced to impose fines of the maximum possible amount in a total of five cases, one of which exceeded CZK 20 million.

In the area of public procurement supervision, we continued to deepen transparent and open communication with contracting authorities and contractors and with the professional public, especially within the framework of the Methodology Days and the first annual May Conference on Public Procurement. In our decision-making activities, we continued to focus on rationalising decision-making and moving away from strict formalism, which was particularly evident in our efforts not to pursue purely formal misconduct by contracting authorities with no real impact on competition and instead to realistically examine the social harm of specific contracting authorities' behaviour. On the other hand, the Office has clearly declared that purposeful submissions are not desirable and that flagrant violations of public procurement law will continue to be severely punished.

In the area of significant market power, just before the end of the year, we managed to negotiate the amendment to the Significant Market Power Act transposing the Directive on unfair trading practices. This is an important milestone that should have a significant impact on buyer-supplier relations throughout the agricultural and food sector. The Office has already carried out a sector inquiry in this area in advance in order to be prepared for the post-amendment situation. We will then devote the beginning of 2023 mainly to awareness-raising activities in order to make farmers, food producers and retailers sufficiently familiar with the new rules.

After an extremely large number of COVID aid programmes in recent years, there has been a relative decrease in 2022 in the area of State aid. Although there is another crisis framework related to the consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Czech Republic has so far prepared only a small number of programmes.

In our role as a competition enforcer, the Office will continue to monitor compliance with the rules and act against infringements in these turbulent times to promote the development of competition in all relevant markets. Fair competition with the main goal to achieve a rapid recovery in most sectors of the economy will be more efficient than attempts at stronger regulation.


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Press Unit of the Office for the Protection of Competition

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