International cooperation on competition and public procurement issues is increasingly important. The Swedish Competition Authority has regular contact with international organisations and corresponding authorities in other countries, particularly within Europe.
The Swedish Competition Authority follows the developments in the areas of competition and public procurement through participating in the efforts of international organisations such as:
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD.
- The International Competition Network, ICN.
- The UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD.
The European Competition Network
The Swedish Competition Authority applies the EU’s competition rules in close cooperation with the competition authorities within the European Competition Network (ECN).
The Nordic countries
Many companies consider the Nordic countries as a single market. This, together with the similar market conditions which exist across the Nordics, means that we engage in an especially close cooperation with the other Nordic competition and public procurement authorities.
Since 2004, Sweden has had a cooperation agreement with Denmark, Norway and Iceland regarding the exchange of confidential information in connection with, for example, cartel investigations and mergers. The authorities therefore have a useful tool in their efforts against cartels and other restrictions of competition.
In order for a competition authority to be able to transfer confidential information under the Nordic cooperation agreement, it is required that the information:
- Is covered by professional secrecy at the receiving authority which is at least equivalent to that applicable to the disclosing authority
- Is used for the purposes stated in the agreement
- Is only disclosed further by the receiving authority with the express consent of the disclosing authority, and only for the purposes consented to.
New Nordic competition agreement
A new cooperation agreement was signed in September 2017 and includes the competition authorities in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Greenland. The agreement replaces the previous, more limited cooperation agreement. The new Nordic cooperation agreement gives greater opportunities for the competition authorities to gather information on behalf of one another, for example through dawn raids, and to exchange information in conjunction with investigations.
The approval of each country’s parliament is now required for the agreement to come into force.
The Swedish Competition Authority applies the EU’s competition rules when trade between Sweden and another EU Member State is affected. This means that even agreements between companies which solely concern the Swedish market can be assessed according to the EU’s competition rules if, for example, they restrict imports.
Since 1 May 2004 the competition authorities within the EU have applied the EU’s competition rules within the European Competition Network (ECN). The ECN is a formal network in which the competition authorities inform each other of cases and envisaged decisions, help each other with investigations and exchange evidence and other information. This ensures consistent application of the competition rules.The European Commission handles its cases in close cooperation with the competition authorities of the Member States. The Swedish Competition Authority participates in advisory committee meetings, where the Commission gathers the views of the Member States before taking decisions in a case.
The ECN sends out a consolidated newsletter ‘ECN Brief’ with an overview of activities in the different Member States. Read and subscribe to the newsletter.
The Swedish rules concerning public procurement are mainly based on EU-directives. Therefore, a correct application of the rules requires cooperation on the EU-level. The Swedish Competition Authority participates in, for instance, the EU-commission’s Network of First Instance Public Procurement Review Bodies and the Commission’s Economic and Statistical Working Group (ESWG).
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) includes 35 countries’ governments and has its headquarters in Paris.
The purpose of the organisation is to help governments foster prosperity and fight poverty through economic growth and financial stability.
The Competition Committee of the OECD holds meetings twice a year. The Swedish Competition Authority participates actively in the work of the committee and provides written contributions to roundtables on relevant issues within its working groups for Competition and Regulation (WP2) and Competition Enforcement (WP3), as well as within the Committee itself.
During the autumn meeting of the Committee, the OECD organises the Global Forum on Competition for members and specially invited non-members.
Capacity-building for competition issues
The OECD has two regional offices for capacity building. The Asian office for capacity building is called the OECD/Korea Policy Centre. The European office is called the OECD-GVH Regional Centre for Competition.
Public Governance Committee
The OECD’s work in the area of public procurement is carried out within two forums within the Public Governance Committee:
- Public Sector Integrity Network
- Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement (LPP)
The overarching goal of the forums’ work is to produce public procurement recommendations and share experiences and best practices within the public procurement area.
The Swedish Competition Authority primarily participates in the network LPP and has contributed with written submissions and comments on tools for procurement supervision and enhanced integrity in public procurement. The LPP meets during the OECD’s annual Public Procurement Week. During the Public Procurement Week workshops are also held regarding current public procurement related issues.
International Competition Network (ICN)
The ICN is a worldwide network for competition authorities with the purpose of supporting the understanding of competition issues and the value of an effective competition policy. The work takes place in project form within the framework of various working groups. There are currently 5 working groups; cartels, mergers, unilateral conduct, agency effectiveness, and advocacy.
In addition to representatives from competition authorities, additional non-governmental advisors also participate, such as advisors from industry and consumer organisations, researchers and practitioners. These advisors contribute voluntarily to the ICN’s work. This cooperation ensures a high quality of both discussions and written products.
Advocacy Working Group (AWG)
The Swedish Competition Authority has been appointed as a co-chair of the Advocacy Working Group for the period 2015-2018, together with the Competition Commission of Singapore and the Mexican Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE). The aim of the working group is to develop tools and recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of competition authorities’ advocacy activities and to promote the development of a good competition culture. The plan for the working group’s activities for the current period, along with long-term plans, can be found at the ICN’s website.
In addition to organising stimulating teleconferences and seminars, the co-chairs are responsible for ensuring that the projects established in the 2017-2018 workplan are carried out. This year the Swedish Competition Authority is responsible for the project to update the ICN’s Market Studies Information Store, which is an online collection of market studies carried out by the ICN’s members.
European Competition Authorities (ECA)
The ECA is an informal network for the competition authorities within the EU and EFTA member states. The national authorities which participate in the ECA have agreed on certain guidelines in relation to merger cases which cannot be assessed by the Commission.
The national authorities inform each other about mergers which are notified in several countries. The guidelines describe how the national authorities should cooperate in these cases, and give guidance on which facts the national authorities should take into account when they weigh up if the case should be referred to the Commission. The purpose of the cooperation is to achieve a more effective and unified assessment of mergers which affect competition in several member states.
Exchange of knowledge and experience
The Swedish Competition Authority also participates in exchanges of knowledge and experience with a number of countries which are going to introduce or have recently introduced competition rules and competition authorities. The Swedish Competition Authority participates, among other things, in projects financed by the EU for countries in Europe, and also engages in contact with competition authorities in Asia and Africa.