About the Estonian Competition Authority

Autor: Isabel Marii Vares

The Estonian Competition Authority exercises state supervision in the fields of competition, electricity, natural gas, district heating, postal services, public water supply and sewerage, railways, and ports. In addition, the Authority resolves disputes and complaints related to airport and port charges and monitors unfair commercial practices. The Authority is in the area of government of the Ministry of Justice.

The functions of the Authority are divided between two divisions. The Competition Division supervises competition, controls mergers, analyses the competition situation in various sectors, and raises competition awareness. As of 1 November 2021, the Competition Division also monitors unfair commercial practices. The Regulatory Division supervises and regulates prices in the areas of electricity, natural gas, district heating, and water. The focus of the divisions is on controlling the markets in these sectors and in the rail and postal services market. Additionally, the Authority resolves disputes related to airport and port fees.

The Cooperation and Support Services Department is responsible for ensuring effective support services (including international and public relations, personnel work, organisation of trainings and events, and property and document management).

Figure. Structure of the Estonian Competition Authority

The Estonian Competition Authority employed 42 people as at the end of the year 2021, of whom 39 were officials and 3 were employees. 69% of them were women and 31% were men. The average age of a staff member was 45 years and the average number of years spent working at the Authority was 12.5.

Most staff members have higher education in economics or law. In addition, there are employees who specialise in, for example, thermal engineering, public administration, and materials technology.

As an employer, the values of the Authority are employee friendliness, flexibility, focus on innovation, and transparency in internal communication. In order to follow these values in everyday life, the Authority participates in the Family-Friendly Employer Label Programme, which is a good opportunity to analyse all aspects of employee experience, promote job satisfaction and commitment, and therefore be more efficient in performing the core functions of the Authority. The programme covers various categories related to employee experience, from recruitment, the creation of a physical work environment, and the flow of information to climate in the organisation and promotion of health. The interim evaluation of the programme took place in autumn 2021 and was a success for the Authority. In addition, useful suggestions were made regarding topics which could be further addressed. The final evaluation of the label will take place in 2022.

In the second half of 2021, preparations were made for merging the support services of the Estonian Competition Authority, the Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate, and the Estonian Patent Office to save public costs and create synergies. The joint Cooperation and Support Services Department of the three agencies started working within the Estonian Competition Authority in the beginning of 2022. The services portfolio of the new department includes:

  • information management and communication;
  • personnel management;
  • administrative organisation;
  • management of state assets and funds;
  • financial accounting and reporting;
  • foreign relations;
  • coordination of development projects.

The agencies are relatively small, so it was useful to bring together their different competencies. The Cooperation and Support Services Department provides an opportunity for a better distribution of tasks with an uneven volume, development opportunities and competitive conditions for employees, and modern solutions for the agencies. When merging support services, the processes are reviewed and duplicated activities or activities with very little impact are eliminated.