DP2601 | The International Dimension of the Antitrust Practice in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic

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This paper analyses how the competition authorities in the Czech republic, Poland and Hungary (CPH) have dealt with the interface between trade and competition in their actual practice. The following findings emerge: (i) There has not been any significant conflict in the allocation of jurisdiction between CPH on the one hand and the EU on the other hand. This may however be due to a lack of integration between these countries. (ii) The definition of the relevant geographic market suffers from significant shortcomings in each country under review with a general bias in favour of narrow market definition. Problems are most severe in the Czech republic. (iii) Anti-trust agencies in all three countries have attempted to advocate competition in the formulation of trade policy. Developments regarding the independence of the agencies is however mixed. There are some worrying signs that the Polish agency has become less independent whereas the Hungarian agency has probably become even more independent. (iv) Anti-trust agencies in all three countries could indeed be pursuing objectives of industrial policy in the exercise of merger control towards foreign firms. The situation is most severe in Poland where the suspicion arises that profitable market positions have been auctioned off to foreign buyers in exchange for commitments, which are unrelated to the competitive situation.