Prague, Czechia

will tend to replace the fight against competitors with mutual agreements aimed towards the exclusion of competition. In this case, their businesses may survive, but it will be primarily at the expense of consumers and the economy as a whole. In this context, it should be emphasized that competition authorities do not protect competition as a sui generis asset for businesses. They do not in any way guarantee undertakings the right to succeed, profit or survive in the market, but primarily and ultimately protect the consumers. This difficult period that we are going through is a great challenge for competition authorities, as they need to be even more active and attentive in their work. However, even the crisis cannot be an excuse for cartels. I would also like to mention that the Office for the Protection of Competition also has the power to supervise public procurement in the Czech Republic. This is a unique advantage that we have over some other competition authorities, and we intend to continue to use this advantage in detecting bid rigging, that is, anticompetitive agreements between tenderers for contracts, particularly in the public sector. In the context of the worsening economic situation, we can expect increasing number of suppliers bidding for individual contracts and their temptation to substitute free competition with mutual agreement. I stress again, this will not be tolerated, as bid rigging agreements result in significant loss of public funds. In recent years, the Office has also succeeded in detecting resale price maintenance (RPM) agreements that result in money being lost not only for consumers but also for undertakings themselves. Unfortunately, in this context, we encounter a great deal of ignorance from the side of undertakings who do not consider these types of agreements to be serious and do not realise how harmful they are. At the end of 2021, we have fined almost CZK 97 million for these types of agreements (the first-instance decisions). A number of administrative proceedings are currently conducted for suspected RPM agreements and I can promise you that the Office will continue to be very active in this area also in the future, not only in terms of repression but also prevention. We are therefore planning to publish an information leaflet focusing specifically on the issue of prohibited vertical agreements. This was a brief overview of the challenges we are currently facing, how the Office for the Protection of Competition is dealing with them, and also some of our future plans. Let me now turn your attention to the topic of the conference, which has been very sensitive for competition authorities in recent years and will certainly be the subject of lively discussion also in the future. I am referring to the topic of the relationship between competition law and sustainability and/or Green Deal policy. Long before the pandemic, climate change had already become a globally important topic in the public and political spheres. It is not surprising that


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