Brussels, 11 December 2012
Antitrust: Commission opens proceedings against Romanian Power Exchange
The European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings against OPCOM and Transelectrica to investigate whether the operator of the only power exchange in Romania may be abusing its dominant position. The Commission has concerns that OPCOM may be discriminating against companies on the basis of their nationality or place of establishment, in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). An opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation; it only means that the Commission will proceed with an in-depth investigation.
The Commission is investigating OPCOM's requirement that all participants on the spot markets on the power exchange hold a Romanian VAT registration and consequently are established in Romania.
This business practice may increase the cost for foreign traders to do business on the power exchange and deter foreign traders from entering the Romanian electricity wholesale market, thereby reducing market liquidity and efficiency.
Power exchanges are crucial for the transparent and reliable formation of electricity prices. They provide a public price index which can be used for the whole power market.
Article 102 TFEU prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position which may affect trade between Member States. The implementation of this provision is defined in the Antitrust Regulation (Council Regulation No 1/2003), which can be applied by the Commission and by the national competition authorities of EU Member States.
Article 11(6) of the Antitrust Regulation provides that the initiation of proceedings by the Commission relieves the competition authorities of the Member States of their competence to also apply EU competition rules to the practices concerned. Article 16(1) of the same Regulation provides that national courts must avoid giving decisions which would conflict with a decision contemplated by the Commission in proceedings it has initiated.
The Commission has informed OPCOM S.A. (the operator of the power exchange), its parent company CNTEE Transelectrica S.A. (the transmission system operator) and the Romanian competition authority that it has opened proceedings in this case.
There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. The duration of an antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertaking concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.