The Competition Act during the war in Ukraine – a joint EU/EEA statement

The Norwegian Competition Authority has today joined a statement from the network of European competition authorities for how to tackle certain competition law issues that may arise in the context of the war in Ukraine.

The Norwegian Competition Act is harmonised with the EU/EEA competition rules and the approach adopted by other competition authorities in Europe will therefore be adopted in Norway.

– Todays’ joint statement is similar to the statement that was issued during the pandemic, and it shows that the competition authorities in all EU/EEA countries takes common crises very seriously. Now it is the war in Ukraine that demand a common accumulation of power. To ensure the security of supply especially for socially critical goods and services, we see that there might be a need for more cooperation between businesses to ensure purchase, supplies and fair distribution of scarce products, or reduce severe economic consequences included those that arise from compliance with sanctions impose by the EU. At the same time, we, as all other European countries, will watch out for anyone who may be exploiting the situation to raise prices. This includes the exchange of information regarding longer-term pricing or business strategies, where this is not necessary to meet the needs of the current situation, says General Director Tina Søreide.

The European Competition Network (ECN), where Norway also participates, made the following statement today:

  • The ECN is fully aware of the social and economic consequences triggered by the war in Ukraine.
  • The different EU competition instruments have mechanisms to take into account, where appropriate and necessary, market and economic developments. Competition rules ensure a level playing field between companies. This objective remains relevant also in a period when companies and the economy as a whole suffer from the war in Ukraine.
  • The ECN understands that this extraordinary situation may trigger the need for companies to cooperate in order to ensure the supply and fair distribution of scarce products to all consumers. In the current circumstances, the ECN will not actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures put in place in order to avoid a shortage of supply.
  • Considering the current circumstances, such measures would in any case appear unlikely to be problematic, since they would either not amount to a restriction of competition under Article 101 TFEU or generate efficiencies that would most likely outweigh any such restriction. If companies have doubts about the compatibility of such cooperation initiatives with EU competition law, they can reach out to the Commission or the national competition authority concerned any time for informal guidance.
  • At the same time, it is of utmost importance to ensure that products considered essential to consumers in the current situation (e.g. energy, food and raw material) remain available at competitive prices. The ECN will therefore not hesitate to take action against companies taking advantage of the current situation by cartelising or abusing their dominant position.