In order to avoid conflicts of interest in its preparatory work, the Swedish Competition Authority has drawn up strict internal guidelines.
In the Budget Bill for 2020, the Government has proposed that the Swedish Competition Authority's research grants be reduced by SEK 3 million. The Swedish Competition Authority's research grant will thus, if the Riksdag decides in accordance with the Government's proposal, be largely subscribed for already ongoing projects. This means that the Swedish Competition Authority is not able to carry out any announcement of research funding for 2020.
The debate about research funders who favour certain researchers or application assessors who support researchers who they know personally harms the public’s opinion of both research and the results it provides. In order to avoid this situation as far as is possible, the Swedish Competition Authority has placed the issue of conflicts of interest high up on its agenda. There are strict internal guidelines governing how the Authority is to work to avoid conflict of interest situations.
Examples of situations where conflicts of interest may arise are, for instance, where an adjudicator is affiliated to the same institution as the applicant, or where the adjudicator has recently been closely collaborating with an applicant. A conflict of interest can also arise as a result of antagonism or competition between the adjudicator and the applicant being assessed.
The obligation to report conflicts of interest
All Council members are obligated to report conflicts of interest that arise in relation to all applications received. Any such reports are submitted before the applications are distributed amongst the members for examination.
Members who have a conflict of interest in respect of one or more applications will not be involved in the assessment of these. Furthermore, the members in question will leave the meeting when these specific applications are being discussed. Members’ conflicts of interest are always recorded in the minutes of the meeting.