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:
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD
- International Competition Network, ICN
- UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD
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).
Many companies consider the Nordic countries as a single market. This, together with the similar market conditions which exist across the Nordics, means that the Swedish Competition Authority engages in an especially close cooperation with the other Nordic competition and public procurement authorities.
Nordic cooperation agreement 2017
A new Nordic cooperation agreement was signed in September 2017, replacing a previous agreement. The agreement has now been ratified by all the Nordic countries. The agreement aims to strengthen and formalise the cooperation between the Nordic competition authorities and to ensure an effective enforcement of the national competition rules. The agreement gives the competition authorities the ability to gather information on behalf of one another, for example through dawn raids, and to exchange information in conjunction with investigations.
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.
The Swedish rules concerning public procurement are mainly based on the EU-directives. Therefore, a correct application of the rules requires cooperation on the EU level. The Swedish Competition Authority participates in, for instance, the European Commission’s Expert Group “Network of First Instance Review Bodies on Public Procurement” and the Commission’s Economic and Statistical Working Group (ESWG).
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) includes 36 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 OECD Competition Committee 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 Co-operation and 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 both OECD members and 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 in two forums within the OECD Public Governance Committee:
- OECD Public Sector Integrity Network
- Working Party of the Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement (LPP)
The overarching goal of the above-mentioned forums’ work is to produce public procurement recommendations, as well as share experiences and best practices within the public procurement area.
The Swedish Competition Authority primarily participates in the LPP network 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. Workshops on current issues related to public procurement are also organised during this Week.
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 five working groups devoted to cartels, mergers, unilateral conduct, agency effectiveness and advocacy.
In addition to representatives from competition authorities, additional non-governmental advisors (NGAs) 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.
Agency Effectiveness Working Group (AEWG)
The Swedish Competition Authority has been appointed as a co-chair of the ICN Agency Effectiveness Working Group (AEWG) for the period 2018–2021, together with the Canadian Competition Bureau and the Competition Authority of Botswana.
The aim of the working group is to identify key elements of a well-functioning competition agency and develop best practices for agency strategy, operations and procedures. In addition to organising stimulating teleconferences and seminars, the co-chairs are responsible for ensuring that the projects established in the 2019–2020 workplan are carried out.
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 European 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.