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Protection of competition watchdog in limbo

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Several rulings by the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) remain in limbo and may even be invalidated due to legal complications, the head of the agency told MPs on Monday.

CPC chairperson Eva Pantzari was speaking in parliament during a review of the agency’s 2024 budget.

“We are at a very difficult stage,” she told lawmakers.

Prior rulings by the competition watchdog have been put on hold due to ongoing litigation concerning the validity of the body itself – specifically whether the composition of the CPC was legitimate.

Should the prior composition of the CPC be deemed illegitimate, any decisions taken under that composition would likewise by deemed illegitimate and voided.

The matter concerns whether previous CPC members – including the former chairperson – served terms longer than permitted. The text of the law apparently leaves room for interpretation.

In September 2021, the administrative court had ruled that the composition of the CPC was legitimate.

However, a subsequent ruling in May 2023 by the same court – in response to a separate legal challenge – went the other way, finding the composition of the CPC to be illegitimate.

The government has since appealed the latter court decision.

The appeal was filed with the Appeals Court in October of this year.

The Cyprus Mail understands that the affected CPC rulings go back at least five years – and perhaps beyond that, depending on what the Appeals Court determines.

In a memo submitted to parliament recapping the CPC’s work during 2023, Pantzari said the body convened 80 times and issued 39 decisions.

The total amount in administrative fines imposed in 2023 came to €5.087 million. The total amount of fines paid during 2023 came to €505,000.

In addition, the CPC assessed and approved as lawful 29 acts of market concentration.

The agency investigates cases such as alleged market collusion and price-fixing.

 

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