Competition Enforcement Models in the Western Balkans Countries – The Rule of Law Still Terra Incognita?
Scientific Publishing House of the Faculty of Management at the University of Warsaw
The administrative model of competition law enforcement is the prevailing model in the EU Member States. Although Member States are free to choose between the administrative and the judicial model or their combination, many of them opted for the administrative model taking the EU model as an example. The same is valid for the candidate and potential candidate states of Western Balkans. The new Directive 2019/1 deals with the issue of safeguarding the fundamental rights in competition proceedings in general terms only, while stabilisation and association agreements lay down the rule of law as a fundamental principle, but do not say much regarding the features of the competition enforcement model. Candidate countries did not consider the rule of law requirements when designing their competition enforcement models. Competition authorities combine investigative and decision-making powers, preventing them from impartial decision-making. Rules on the appointment, that is, election of members of decision-making bodies, and the limited term of office, made competition authorities susceptible to political influence. Administrative courts are in charge of disputes initiated against decisions of competition authorities in the second instance. Limitations on applying full jurisdiction proceedings, and the modest expertise of administrative law judges in competition law, prevent courts from dealing with the merits of competition cases. Hence, effective judicial control of decisions of competition authorities is missing. The European Commission should monitor the observance of fundamental legal principles in competition law enforcement when assessing the readiness of candidate states to join the EU.
competition enforcement models the administrative model of competition enforcement Directive 2019/1 stabilisation and association agreement Western Balkan countries the rule of law