Competition rules still applicable despite the COVID-19 pandemic
The competition/antitrust rules and regulations continue to apply, even in this time of crisis, and all companies must take them into account when conducting their activities.
The Romanian Competition Council (RCC) has recently stated that, whilst continuing to observe the competition rules, companies can still take certain measures justifiable under the scope of preventing the spread of COVID-19 but, at the same time, this should only be done in a manner that will not lead to serious competition restrictions. According to the RCC, a very important aspect in the context of this pandemic is that prices remain reasonable and justified.
The RCC also announced that administrators of online marketplaces can impose measures to limit unjustified price increases for basic products and services. For example, at an international level, several online platforms like Facebook or Instagram have already taken such measures, ie. banning sales of certain products like medical face masks. The extent of such measures should, however, be carefully checked in advance.
The Romanian authority is closely monitoring the conduct of companies to ensure that this public health emergency will not lead companies to:
- raise prices without objective justification;
- exchange sensitive information;
- engage in exclusionary practices;
- abuse their dominant position; or
- engage in anti-competitive agreements (in order to limit sales, fix prices or share customers and territories).
In close cooperation with the RCC, the National Authority for Consumer Protection (NAPC) will ensure that the measures agreed, at a national level, for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 are carried out as soon as possible.
The NAPC had a meeting with representatives and members of the Association of the Great Commercial Networks of Romania (AMRCR) for the purpose of discussing the most appropriate measures required in the context of this pandemic.
The AMRCR members brought the NAPC’s attention to a series of measures already implemented in the retail network, such as measures aimed at preventing crowding, the disinfection of restricted interaction areas, triage of employees with specific symptoms and informing clients about preventive measures to avoid infection with COVID-19 through a series of posters and messages made visible at the points of sale.
The NAPC has undertaken to promptly and efficiently handle any new situations that arise in the context of this pandemic.