Author: Annabelle Lepièce (CMS)
Publication date: 17/03/2021
On 10 March 2021, the Belgian Competition Authority issued its annual communication setting out its policy priorities for the current year. This publication, which has existed since 2014, explains how the Authority selects its formal investigations and describes its strategic and sectoral priorities for competition policy.
In line with the priority areas identified in previous years, the Authority intends to continue its actions in the following areas:
- the digital economy;
- services to undertakings and consumers (particularly the regulated professions);
- the retail sector and its relations with suppliers;
- the pharmaceutical sector;
- public procurement;
- logistics services, notably at ports; and
- the telecommunications sector.
As for the types of infringement prioritized, the Belgian Competition Authority will seek the appropriate balance between obvious hardcore infringements and more complex or innovative cases.
This communication is also an opportunity to emphazise the Belgian Competition Authority’s new competence to sanction abuses of economic dependence as from 22 August 2020.
Nevertheless, the COVID-19 crisis has affected the handling of files by the Authority. Some investigations are still ongoing and the object of requests of information, however the Authority is not able to conduct dawn raids. Furthermore, the Authority had in 2020 invited companies not to notify planned mergers if they were not urgent. Finally, judicial proceedings have been impacted by the pandemic.