The main legislative changes and priority areas for the current year in the field of competition and State Aid, which being adopted in the process of implementation of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. To these issues was devoted the working meeting of the delegation of the AMCU with the representatives of the European Commission`s Directorate General for Competition, which took place on January 24, 2022, in Brussels (Kingdom of Belgium).
On behalf of the AMCU, the meeting was attended by the Chair of the AMCU Olha Pishchanska, Deputy Chair - State Commissioner Anzhelika Konoplyanko, Director of the Legal Department - Hanna Kryvoshei and Acting Deputy Head of the European Integration and International Cooperation Section - Milan Shafar.
On behalf of the European Commission meeting was attended by Eddy De Smijter - Head of International Relations Unit of DG COMP, Katarzyna Gueneau De Mussy - Desk officer for Ukraine of DG COMP and Alberto Fernandez-Diez - representative of the DG Trade. The meeting was also attended by the Head of the EU International Technical Assistance Project "Support to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine for Enforcing State Aid Rules" (SESAR) - Stefan Sabau and Panagiotis Stamoulis - Counsellor/ Policy Officer, Competition, State Aid, SOEs and Privatisations of the EU delegation to Ukraine.
At the beginning of the discussion, the Chair of the AMCU Olha Pishchanska thanked her European colleagues for their strong support of the Ukraine in fulfilling the obligations set out in the Association Agreement with the EU.
“It is fundamentally necessary for the AMCU to create a State Aid system in Ukraine that would meet high European requirements and rules. An inventorization of existing State Aid and filling in the relevant register remains a priority task in field of the AMCU's activities in 2022. This year, in terms of improvement of the regulatory and legal base, we will focus on establishment and approving on governmental level of a number of criteria, in particular, criteria for assessing the compatibility of State Aid to Ukrainian airports and airlines, for the undertakings to ensure regional development, for the undertakings to support medium and small entrepreneurship, etc.,” said the Chair of the AMCU.
Olha Pishchanska also noted the important role of the EU Delegation to Ukraine as well as EU SESAR and Twinning projects in reforming of competition sphere and State Aid. According to her, last year, the AMCU with the support of partners carried out an extensive explanatory work on the application of State Aid legislation in the regions of Ukraine. And a clear indicator of the effectiveness of such work is a notable increase in the conscientious attitude of State Aid grantors to this issue.
At the same time, the Deputy Chair of the AMCU Anzhelika Konoplianko during the discussion raised the issue of liability of State Aid grantors in case of failure to provide information to the AMCU on request or failure to notify the AMCU of their intentions and asked European colleagues to share their experience.
“Ukrainian legislation does not provide for the liability of grantors for illegal State Aid or for failure to provide a notification to the AMCU. In fact, when the AMCU decides to return or suspend State Aid not the grantor but only the recipient suffers. The recipient has no levers of influence on the grantors” said the Deputy Chair.
As it turned out, there is no such responsibility in the EU, as there is no need for it due to the high level of self-discipline of State Aid grantors. At the same time, recipients of State Aid in the event of a decision to return it, have the right to go to court for compensation.
The Director of the AMCU`s Legal Department Hanna Kryvoshei also briefed the partners on the novelties of Draft Law 5648, which amends the Law of Ukraine “On the State Aid to Undertakings” and listed the steps taken by the AMCU to implement the Agreement in terms of inventory of existing State Aid.
“To bring potential State Aid measures in line with the requirements of the law on State Aid, the work continues in inter-institutional working groups. Requests for information on all support programs that existed before August 2, 2017, and are currently in force were sent to ministries - potential State Aid grantors. The register of existing State Aid will be filled by AMCU`s decisions and also after receiving relevant information from the ministries as State Aid grantors”, the Director of AMCU`s Legal Department explained.
In turn, the European partners invited the AMCU to study their experience in focusing the attention of competition authorities on larger State Aid cases, as those that significantly affect the state of competition and the economy.
Eddy De Smijter, Head of International Relations Unit of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition, assured his Ukrainian colleagues that the European Commission is ready to continue to support the AMCU by providing all necessary advisory or methodological assistance.
“We are highly appreciating the progress that Ukrainian side has made in the implementation of the State Aid institute. I would like to thank the AMCU for its efforts and persistence. This is our common task and we are ready to provide an assistance to Ukraine in this regard. After all, for the EU countries, this has been a long journey. We are ready to share our experience in unlimited quantities so that Ukraine can build this system much faster”, said Eddy De Smijter.
As a result, the participants of the meeting noted the high efficiency of the direct dialogue and agreed to continue close contacts in order to speed up the reform of Ukrainian competition law.