Serbia drafts new competition law

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The Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, together with the country’s Competition Commission, has begun to draft new competition legislation, in order to improve the business environment.

“The idea came from the competition authority, as it felt some changes might improve enforcement of the law and clarify some of the legal ambiguities to ensure the Serbian antitrust regime is further harmonised with that of the EU,” explains Rastko Petaković, managing partner at Karanović and Nikolić, which will contribute to the new law.

“A more immediate trigger however came from the changes to the law governing administrative procedure; in June this year, changes to the general rules on administrative procedure came into effect, some of which could also affect antitrust related procedures. To avoid ambiguities as to the application of general rules (governing general administrative procedures) vs. specific rules (governing special administrative procedure in antitrust cases), the authority wanted to speed up the process,” he tells Emerging Europe.

According to the President of the Competition Commission Miloje Obradović, the new law will help better protect market competition, facilitating a more effective use of existing resources and offer better and higher quality products to consumers.

“As long as the business community knows what to expect in interpretation, application and enforcement of the law, it will see the local legal framework as predictable and easier for doing business. As long as the antitrust law is EU based and predictable enough, it should reduce the risk of doing business in Serbia,” Mr Petaković adds.

“As to more specific changes, the new law is expected to increase merger filing thresholds which may reduce the number of filings being made in Serbia each year. It is also expected to bring more clarity and better align the regime with EU secondary regulation relating to restrictive agreements. Consequently, it should allow for more flexibility in setting up more flexible distribution structures,” he says.