During the current crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, companies are permitted to act in a coordinated manner to avoid shortages of essential products and to ensure balanced distribution of such products.
For example, retailers can coordinate freight to ensure the supply of commodities in all areas and home deliveries for people who cannot leave their homes.
Moreover, companies must ensure that their products are available at competitive prices. To this end, the administrators of e-commerce platforms may impose measures to limit unjustified price increases on basic products and services. Also, competition law allows manufacturers to set maximum prices for their products, a measure which could prove useful for limiting unjustified price increases at the distribution level.
The Competition Council continues to closely monitor the market behaviour of companies and will not hesitate to hold accountable any firm that engages in abusive practices (such as excessive pricing) or cartels.
This statement of the national competition authority is in line with the European policy adopted by the European Commission and other EU competition authorities through the European Competition Network (ECN), regarding the application of competition rules during the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Competition Council is expected to be more flexible in providing guidance to companies that initiate joint cooperation projects and not to actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures put in place to prevent shortages.
By Rusandra Sandu, Partner and Luiza Bedros, Counsel, Noerr