Developing a strategy and packages of legislative initiatives necessary for the implementation of competition law reform, advocating for future legislative changes and training Ukrainian specialists in the specifics of European law enforcement: these were the main results of the three-year work of the EU Twinning Project "Support to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine in Further Harmonization of Legal and Procedural Practices of Antitrust Control over Mergers in the EU". On February 22, 2023, a final event was held to summarize the results of cooperation with European partners. The meeting was attended by the leaders of the project and its components from the AMCU and the European Union, representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, members of the Ukrainian Parliament and representatives of the business community.
Olha Pishchanska, the Chair of the Antimonopoly Committee and the project leader from the Ukrainian side, called the draft law No. 5431 and significant progress in professional development of the AMCU staff the main achievements of the project.
"The adoption of this document by the Verkhovna Rada will determine the reform of the antitrust legislation in general and the AMCU in particular. And also, to a large extent, Ukraine's fulfillment of its international obligations in terms of implementing legislation. Summarizing the results of the Twinning project, I will take the liberty of stating that our main common achievement is not documents or information, but a strong, qualified and trained team of the AMCU", - said Olha Pishchanska.
Draft law No. 5431 was supposed to be considered by the Verkhovna Rada in the second reading in February 2022, but the outbreak of a full-scale war prevented it. Nevertheless, the AMCU decided to continue working on other documents necessary for the implementation of the reform:
"With the start of the full-scale invasion, we, together with our colleagues from Twinning and USAID, started developing the bylaws necessary to implement draft law No. 5431. In particular, we focused on the Procedure for Settlement of Cases on Protection of Economic Competition, the Procedure on Concentration and the Procedure for Leniency for Participation in Anti-Competitive Concerted Actions", - said the leader of the first component of the project, the AMCU State Commissioner Olga Nechytailo.
Her colleague, the leader of the second component, the AMCU State Commissioner Serhii Shershun, added that together with Twinning experts, a number of regulations were developed regarding the procedure for conducting inspections, calculation of fines and consideration of cases by the AMCU.
At the same time, Roksolana Pidlasa, Chair of the Parliamentary Budget Committee, expressed hope that Draft Law No. 5431 would be voted on in the second reading in the coming months, comparing the complexity of the process of its consideration to the adoption of the law on opening the land market.
"Although the draft law No. 5431 has not yet become law, we often refer to the developed bylaws when we convince our colleagues to support the adoption of this draft law. I hope that in the coming months the draft law will be submitted to the session hall and voted on. Especially in light of the recent IMF statement on the results of the review of the monitoring program. The IMF is convinced that Ukraine should continue its reforms, in particular in the area of increasing the competitiveness of the private sector", - Roksolana Pidlasa emphasized.
Panagiotis Stamoulis, Economic Policy Manager of the Competition, Privatization and State-Owned Enterprises Section of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, also expressed hope for the draft law's speedy adoption: "We believe that despite the war, Draft Law No. 5431 should be adopted as soon as possible. This will help the AMCU ensure the implementation of competition in the face of the challenges posed by post-war reconstruction".
Deputy Minister of Economy of Ukraine Nadiya Bihun also touched upon the issue of post-war reconstruction in her speech during the meeting. She emphasized the importance of support from partners in this process, as well as the close partnership between the Ministry and the AMCU.
"Partnership with the Antimonopoly Committee is extremely important. Especially now, when we have terrible consequences of the war, when it is very important to quickly rebuild the country: infrastructure and economy. Without a stable, powerful economy, we will not be able to resist our aggressive northern neighbors in the future", - says Nadiya Bigun.
This opinion is shared by Russell Damtoft, deputy director of the FTC's international relations department: "When the war is over, the value of such projects as Twinning will increase and they will play an even greater role. All the money that will come to Ukraine as part of the reconstruction should be directed to a better future. And the AMCU is a tool for Ukraine to achieve its goal of becoming a worthy member of the European Union".
The overall results of the Project were summarized by Šarūnas Pajarskas, the Project's Permanent Advisor: in addition to the draft law No. 5431, 13 regulatory acts and 8 procedural acts, 16 trainings, 35 consultations on practical issues, 9 lectures for university students, 8 trainings on public relations and 3 study visits were conducted within the Twinning.
"I am satisfied with the results we have achieved during the project, despite the fact that there were many obstacles in its implementation. The first part of the project was during the coronavirus restrictions, and during the second part of the project, the war broke out. Over 33 months of work, many changes have taken place, but we managed to go through all the difficulties and achieve our goals".
It was also noted during the meeting that thanks to the project, the AMCU has become as open as possible in its communication with the public, business and government.
Šarūnas Keserauskas, the Head of the Lithuanian Competition Authority and the project leader from the European partners, emphasized that the cooperation between the partners and the AMCU will not stop with the completion of the Twinning project:
"We still have a lot of work to do. We are closing the project, but we are not 'closing the door'. We remain partners of the AMCU and will continue to work together. If you need our help, you will get it", - emphasized Šarūnas Keserauskas.
Cosmin Belacurencu, Competition Advisor and Member of the Board of the Romanian Competition Council, also assured of further support for the AMCU: "Ukraine is now a candidate country for EU membership. Based on Romania's experience, I can say that this path will not be easy, especially its competitive component. But I want to assure you that you can count on us if you need our help".
Summarizing the results of the meeting, Olha Pishchanska, the AMCU's Chair, noted that the project had fulfilled its mission and laid a solid foundation for the implementation of one of the most difficult national reforms:
"Based on the results of this project, we are ready to start the practical implementation of the reform. Almost all bylaws have been prepared. All that is needed is the adoption of draft law 5431 in the second reading by the Parliament. Moreover, in the next two or three weeks we will make public our joint developments on proposals for the second stage of the reform in the form of a presentation", - announced Olha Pishchanska.
For reference: The EU Twinning Project "Support to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine in Further Harmonization of Legal and Procedural Practices of Antitrust Control over Mergers in the EU" was launched in May 2020 and officially ends on February 24, 2023. It was aimed at bringing the AMCU's work closer to the best European competition protection standards. During this time, 65 experts from Germany, Romania and Lithuania took part in the Project. The project was funded by the EU.