2022 was a diverse year for international cooperation in the field of competition. The agency was highly involved in the work of the European Competition Network (ECN), actively participating in numerous virtual and on-site meetings of subgroups and working groups held in Brussels or Member States. In March the ECN issued a joint statement on the application of competition law in the context of the war in Ukraine, which emphasised, among other things, that it is of utmost importance to ensure that essential products (for example, energy, food, raw materials) remain available at competitive prices and that the current crisis is not used to undermine a competitive level playing field between companies.
The annual Baltic Competition Conference was hosted by the Competition Council of Latvia (Konkurences padome) this year, with the event also serving as a celebration of its 30th anniversary. The conference focused on the challenges stemming from national and local government authorities’ participation in business, contemporary competition law challenges in digital markets and recent competition case law. The Director General of the Estonian Competition Authority participated in a round of discussions with the Directors General of other Baltic competition authorities and gave an overview of the most significant changes in the area of competition in Estonia. The representatives of the Competition Authority also discussed with their counterparts cases of abuse of dominant position, merger control, prohibited agreements and digital markets.
The Competition Council of the Republic of Lithuania (Konkurencijos taryba) also marked its 30th anniversary with celebrations. At the conference, companies and representatives from competition authorities engaged in discussions regarding the nature and future of competition and pricing regulation. In addition to the anniversary conference, the heads of the Baltic competition authorities held a meeting in Vilnius, where they discussed cooperation in various proceedings, including those related to energy prices and cross-border concentration transactions.
In addition to the OECD Competition Committee and working group meetings in June and November/December, the Global Forum on competition was held in December, where, among other topics of interest, the interaction between competition authorities and the sector regulator was discussed. The Director General of the Estonian Competition Authority also presented Estonia’s positions on this topic. As the Estonian Competition Authority is responsible for handling competition issues and regulating certain sectors, the presentation provided an overview of potential points of contact and opportunities for mutual cooperation and also touched upon the authority’s cooperation with the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.
This year, the authority also participated in the ICN Annual Conference in Berlin as well as other international competition seminars and conferences held across the globe.
The Competition Authority hosted the Baltic Electricity Market Forum in Tallinn on 24 May 2022 and the Baltic Gas Market Forum on 25 May 2022. These traditional regional meetings bring together energy regulators, market participants and policymakers from the Baltics, Finland, Sweden and Poland to find common solutions to the most pressing issues in the energy sector. The forums focused on the developments in energy markets. In addition, a district heating seminar was held among regulators to discuss possible solutions that would alleviate price increases for consumers but which would also be sensible from a business and environmental perspective.
In late November the authority participated in the regional electricity and gas market forums held by the Latvian regulator in Riga, involving the Baltic States, Finland, Sweden and Poland. In addition, the authority also participated in the district heating and water sector seminar held between regulators. The district heating discussion focused on the factors affecting the prices of heating, including changing fuel prices, as well as national support measures. At the water sector seminar, the OECD recommendations for the development of the water sector were discussed.