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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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History

Brief history of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) was established in 1990 as the Antimonopoly Office. In 1989, on the verge of a political breakthrough, when the economy was based on the free market mechanisms, an Act on counteracting monopolistic practices was passed on 24 February 1990. It constituted an important element of the market reform programme. The structure of the economy, inherited from the central planning system, was characterized with a high level of monopolization, which could significantly limit the success of the economic transformation. In this situation, promotion of competition and counteracting the anti-market behaviors of the monopolists was especially significant. Therefore, the Antimonopoly Office – AO (Urząd Antymonopolowy – UA) was appointed under this act, and commenced its operation in May once the Council of Ministers passed the charter. Also its first regional offices commenced operations in that very same year.

Counteracting the anti-competitive agreements and abuse of the dominant position on the market as well as control of concentration of entrepreneurs were set as the main tasks of the Office.  These competences were repeatedly increased. A significant change took place in 1996, when after the reform of the central administration, the AO received its present name – the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (Urząd Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów – UOKiK.) The extent of its activities was simultaneously extended to include the protection of consumer interest. At the same time the Chief Inspector of the Commercial Inspection was assigned to the President of the Office.

In 2000 the Office started monitoring the state aid granted to entrepreneurs and supervision of general product safety.

An important step in the development of the competition protection system was the Act of 15 December 2000 on competition and consumer protection (entered into force on April 2001). The Act defined the principles of functioning of the entire system of competition and consumer protection, in which the President of the Office takes the central position. One of the most important changes was implementation of specific terms of office and the obligation of appointment through competition.
 

On 16 February 2007 a new Act of competition and consumer protection was adopted. In order to improve the effectiveness of the Office's operations, the Act eliminated the institution of proceedings launched upon a motion with regard to practices restricting competition and infringing collective consumer interests. The Act empowers the President of the Offices to impose fines on undertakings who have infringed collective consumer interest. 

In 2002 the Offices made an effort to create a market supervision system for products under EU directives and a fuel quality monitoring system.

For the Offices, Poland’s accession to the European Union as of 1 May 2004 signified most of all the end of the process of harmonization of the Polish antimonopoly law with the EU regulations. Since the accession, the Office operates within the scope of the European Competition Network (ECN.)

The President of the Offices represents Poland within the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC), which incorporates public institutions responsible for consumer protection in the EU. CPC was established on the basis of the EU regulations from the year 2004. The main aim of the CPC is an active cooperation aiming at the eradication of cross-border commercial activities that may affect the interests of the weaker participants of the market, thus the activities reaching beyond the area of only one country.

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