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1. Overview of competition regulations and authorities

1.1 Underlying issues of competition regulations

Matters of market competition in the Republic of Moldova are regulated mainly by the Law on Protection of Competition, No. 1103-XIV, dated 30th June 2000 (the "Competition Law"). The law explains the concepts of monopolistic activities and unfair competition and prohibits the abuse of dominant position, anticompetitive agreements as well as the actions of public authorities that restrict competition. The Competition Law also establishes control over economic concentrations and empowers the National Agency for the Protection of Competition (the "NAPC") with the competences to enforce the competition legislation.

The functions of NAPC are listed in Article 12 of the Competition Law and the Regulation of the National Agency for the Protection of Competition (the "Regulation") provision for which was made in the Competition Law.

An additional law relating to certain competition issues, namely prohibiting unfair competition by means of advertising, is the Law on Advertising, No. 1227-XIII, dated 27th June 1997. Also, the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova, dated 18th April 2002, contains provisions establishing criminal liability and penalties for the limitation of competition and unfair competition.

The Law on Economic Communications, No. 241-XVI, dated 15th November 2007, empowers the National Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications to ensure fair competition in the relevant markets and to identify the dominant businesses in the electronic communications markets.

The first Moldovan Law governing competition issues is still in force, namely the Law on the Limitation of Monopoly Activity and the Development of Competition, No. 906-XII, dated 29th January 1992 (the "Law No. 906-XII") as well as the subsequently approved Government Decision No. 619, dated 5th October 1993, (the "Government Decision No. 619") which completed the Law No. 906-XII, inter alia, with the procedure of examination of the notifications on the execution of transactions and the creation of economic concentrations and the mechanism for the investigation of competition infringements.

The Competition Law has not expressly abolished these pieces of legislation (i.e. Law No. 906-XII and Government Decision No. 619) but does limit them to the extent that they don't contradict the provisions of the Competition Law. In practice the Law No. 906-XII and the Government Decision No 619 became obsolete and are not applied by NAPC.

To enable the uniform applicability of the competition legislation, NAPC has to issue administrative regulations, instructions and guidelines. The sole disclosed normative act of NAPC is the Guideline of 17 May 2007 on establishing the dominant position of a business on the market (the "Guideline"). However, the adoption of this Guideline has been made without observing the procedure of adoption of normative acts provided by the law and its applicability may be challenged in court by the business entity in which respect its provisions have been applied.

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1.2. Antitrust authorities: structure and competencies

The National Agency for Protection of Competition is the public authority empowered to protect competition in the Republic of Moldova. NAPC was created in 2007 by the Resolution of the Moldovan Parliament No 21-XVI, dated 16th February 2007. The main role of NAPC is to promote state competition policy in order to limit and suppress the anticompetitive activities of private and public entities, as well as enforce the Moldovan legislation for the protection of competition.

The Administrative Council is the collegial governing body of NAPC in charge of fulfilling NAPC's duties and the issuance of NAPC's resolutions on matters on which it is competent. It consists of 7 NAPC's officers, including its leaders (i.e. General Director and two Vice-directors).

The day by day management of NAPC is performed by the General Director and two Vice-directors, appointed for a five year period by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.

NAPC consists of several departments out of which the Department of Abuse of Dominant Position, the Anti-competition Agreements Department, the Control of Economic Concentrations Department and the Control of Unfair Competition and Advertising Department are the most important.

The Competition Law specifies the competencies of NAPC and, inter alia, it empowers the National Agency for Protection of Competition to:

  • investigate violations of competition legislation;
  • order termination of anticompetitive conduct and practices;
  • require the cancellation or modification of agreements (concerted actions) and decisions infringing competition legislation;
  • bring actions to court, including for confiscation of parts of revenues obtained as a result of the infringement of competition legislation;
  • control economic concentrations and monitor relevant markets of goods, including their functioning and changes of structure;
  • identify the dominant position of businesses in relevant markets;
  • elaborate and develop state policy and legislation for the protection of competition and issue further secondary regulations and guidelines to implement.

At the judicial level, the Economic Appeal Court is in charge of examination of claims on the invalidation of anticompetitive agreements (concerted actions); remedy the consequences of the violation, and the confiscation of a part of revenue obtained as a result of infringement of competition legislation. The binding orders of NAPC may be challenged in Chisinau Court of Appeal. The Chisinau Economic Court is empowered to judge the claims relating to damages incurred by one business as a result of the anticompetitive activities of another.

The investigation of criminal offences under Article 246 and 246/1 of the Moldovan Criminal Code is conducted by the officers of the Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption and the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office.

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1.3. Extraterritoriality

The Competition Law applies to the entire territory of the Republic of Moldova in respect of businesses registered in Moldova. However, according to the Article 2 (1) of the Competition Law, it also applies to the actions of Moldovan businesses acting outside the state territory which affects or may affect competition in the domestic market.

We have not yet encountered such cases of extraterritorial application and enforcement of the Competition Law by NAPC.

In matters of cooperation, NAPC has signed five Cooperation Agreements with the competition regulatory authorities of Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Armenia and Hungary these facilitate the bilateral exchange of experience and information, assistance in establishing contacts with the legislative, executive and judiciary bodies of the signatory parties, assistance in the enforcement of competition regulations.

NAPC also collaborates with the competition regulatory authorities of Russia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, USA and Japan.

Moreover, NAPC is a member of the International Competition Network, the Interstate Council for Anti-Monopoly Policy of the Community of Independent States and cooperates with the Budapest Regional Competition Center of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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