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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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UOKiK activities in 2016

< previous | next > 15.12.2017

UOKiK activities in 2016
  • 840 decisions concerning protection of competition and consumers
  • Financial penalties amounting to nearly PLN 107 million
  • For more information about the activity of UOKiK in 2016 please see the Authority’s Report on Activities.

One needs to bear in mind that the Authority is tasked not only with issuing decisions and imposing financial penalties. Other activities are noteworthy too. Our major 2016 achievements included blocking construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline based on concentration-related reservations, as well as reaching an agreement with insurers, which resulted in a reduction of cancellation fees payable by holders of unit-linked policies - says Marek Niechciał, President of the UOKiK.

Competition protection

Anti-monopoly proceedings constitute the primary instrument used by the President of the UOKiK in protecting competition. These may conclude, inter alia, by issuing an order to discontinue the disputable activities, or by imposing financial sanctions. In 2016 the President of the UOKiK initiated 96 explanatory proceedings and 21 anti-monopoly proceedings – 14 of them were concerned with abuse of the entrepreneurs’ dominant market position, while 7 involved illicit agreements.  Furthermore, the Authority made 44 soft calls, and completed 37 of them. These consist in requiring the entrepreneur to voluntarily change or eliminate unfair practices.

Last year the Authority issued 27 decisions concerned with competition-restricting practices, 12 of them related to the abuse of a dominant position and 10 to illicit agreements. In the remaining 5 cases, the proceedings were discontinued. In 2016 the Authority received three applications for inclusion in the leniency programme. Under the program, the participant of an illicit agreement is treated in a less restrictive manner if they supply crucial evidence and cooperate with the Authority.

Control of concentration

The President of the UOKiK has the right to control of concentration. In 2016 the Authority initiated 225 procedures related to the control of concentration. 196 transaction consents, with two of them of the conditional approval, were issued. The decisions pertained mostly to the real estate sector (20), the food industry (18) and the automotive industry (15).

In four cases, the submitted applications were withdrawn by entrepreneurs, inter alia due to the concentration-related reservations reported by the Authority. This was the case in
a procedure involving two companies that intended to establish a consortium to construct the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The Authority voiced its objections to a concentration, noting that the concentration planned could lead to restricting competition. Gazprom holds a dominant position in the supply of natural gas to Poland, and the transaction could result in a further reinforcement of its negotiating power in relations with recipients in our country. UOKiK’s reservations have resulted in the withdrawal of the application. Hence, construction of the pipeline did not commence – says Marek Niechciał, President of the UOKiK.

State aid

State aid results in the state’s interference with free market mechanisms. Hence, its use is restricted. UOKiK performs a preliminary assessment of individual support and aid schemes, evaluating their compliance with EU legislation, and monitors state aid. In 2016 the President of the UOKiK received 514 requests for interpretation and 535 draft government documents for analysis. The Authority notified the European Commission of 11 projects, with 1 of them concerning individual aid, and 10 - aid schemes.

In 2016, the work was completed on the Electronic State Aid Information System. It constitutes an important source of information on aid granted to entrepreneurs.

Consumer protection

In 2016 the Authority concentrated its activities on the financial and telecommunications sectors. UOKiK initiated 98 proceedings related to practices that violate collective consumer interests, and 212 explanatory proceedings in this regard. President of the Competition Authority issued 79 decisions, including 29 requiring that the practices be changed. Furthermore, in 15 cases, illegal practice discontinuation orders were issued, in 28 cases it was determined that such practices were no longer applied, an in 7 cases the proceedings were discontinued. The number of soft calls was quite high: the Authority completed 633 out of 812 such interventions.

The conclusion of agreements with 16 insurers offering unit-linked insurance products was an important achievement as well. The arrangements made provided for a reduction of cancellation fees for consumers not covered by the Authority's decisions.

Product safety

UOKiK’s consumer protection-related activities pertain to product safety as well. In 2016 the Authority conducted 108 investigations and 149 proceedings on general product safety. The total of 138 decisions were issued last year, under 13 of which UOKiK imposed obligations, and under 29 - fines on entrepreneurs. The vast majority of entrepreneurs undertake, in the course of the proceedings, measures aimed at eliminating the hazards or at withdrawing dangerous products from the market. Therefore, the proceedings were discontinued in 108 cases. In 2016, entrepreneurs submitted 175 voluntary notifications of campaigns. As it was the case in previous years, most of such notifications related to motor vehicles (149).

UOKiK monitors the non-food product inspection system for compliance with the requirements specified in the selected acts of the EU harmonisation legislation. In 2016, UOKiK conducted 78 investigations and 315 administrative proceedings. It also issued 144 decisions. The said activities concerned, most frequently, toys (354), electrical equipment (145) and personal protective equipment (36).

UOKiK plans, coordinates and monitors the inspections carried out by Trade Inspection Authority Provincial Inspectorates (WIIH) with respect to services, food and non-food products, and analyzes their results. In 2016, the Trade Inspection Authority performed
31 nationwide inspections. These covered, inter alia, meat products and organic food, textile products, as well as the labeling of detergents and cosmetics. In addition, the Trade Inspection Authority participated in an ad hoc nationwide inspection of hospitals, due to the numerous complaints of patients concerning the quality of nutrition.

Fuel quality

UOKiK is also responsible for managing the Fuel Quality Monitoring System. The results of the inspections carried out in 2016 proved that the quality of liquid fuels was impugned more frequently than that of LPG. As far as liquid fuels are concerned, i.e. gasoline and diesel, 2.36% of samples out of 933 specimens tested failed to meet the quality requirements (in 2015 the same share amounted to 2.79%). The inspections revealed also that 1.88% out of 491 tested specimens of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) did not conform to the applicable regulations. UOKiK issued 69 decisions in which it obliged traders to pay for the costs of testing if the fuel samples tested failed to meet the quality requirements.

Legislation

Being a governmental authority, UOKiK is also involved in creating effective legal regulations. Due to the amendment of the Act on competition and consumer protection, the Authority took over, in April of 2016, the powers of the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection as far as issuing verdicts concerned with prohibited clauses in standard contracts is concerned. Another new solution consists in the fact that the Authority is now capable of issuing reasoned opinions in cases concerned with competition and consumer protection, where this is in the public interest. In this regard, the Authority most often assumed a standpoint concerning clauses contained in mortgage contracts, as well as unit-linked life insurance agreements. 2016 also witnessed the completion of legislative work on the Act on out-of-court resolution of consumer disputes. UOKiK was also involved in the preparation of the Act on counteracting the unfair use of contractual advantage in trade in agricultural and food products. The new regulations entered into effect in 2017.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warsaw
Phone: 22 827 28 92, 55 60 314 ,55 60 111
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]

Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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