CompetitionCO2DDetect abuses of monopoly by operators and concerted practices harmful for consumers
It is important to inspect any kind of anti-competitive practice, besides state subsidies, which could be harmful to consumer interests.
An impartial auditing procedure is precondition to this action, obliging regulators to develop sets of transparent procedure guidelines for conducting and reporting anti-competitive audits.
In accordance, regulators focus on the identification of any possible abuses resulting from a dominant position or monopoly by one or several operators. This could identify for example, oligopolies where several operators secretly agree about charging certain price, or operators who refuses to supply, abusing their dominant market position.
Timely identification of a non-exhaustive list of abuses is the main objective of this action, that is sometimes jointly performed by both competition authorities and WASH regulators.
- Abuse of dominant position is prevented and the competition is reeestablished.
- Consumers are protected from such abuses through systematic and regular reviews of operators’ behaviour and service provision.
- Operators are obliged to follow market rules and avoid any kind of abuse or be penalized.
In Croatia, the Competition Agency ruled on a case involving the company Vodoopskrba i odvodnja d.o.o. from Zagreb. In the proceedings, the agency would decide whether certain services that the company adopted in July 2013 represented an abuse of a dominant position on the relevant public water supply market.
The case started because there was a new provision stating an obligation for water meters installed in old buildings to be connected with the automatic water meter reading (AWMR) network, a system which Vodoopskrba has already introduced in the old buildings. In other words, water meters were a new market for Vodoopskrba, but they were also the sole owners of the AWMR network.
The Competition Agency adopted a decision ordering Vodoopskrba i odvodnja to temporarily cease and-desist to impede other companies in installing telemetric services and preventing final consumers from freely choosing the provider of the services concerned.
Internal capacities needed and the role of partners
A range of administrative, legal and inspection skills is necessary to complete this action, obliging regulators to build their internal capacity through training, often seeking support from anti-monopoly institutions or development partners. Competition authorities could extend their expertise when conducting these audits.
Development partners could build upon this through training and establishing tailored implementation procedures. Regulators’ staff must be trained on when to proceed with audits, what and how to analyse and inspect, and how to advance with the respective conclusions.