Priorities of the Belgian Competition Authority for 2020

On 26 March 2020, the Belgian Competition Authority issued its annual communication setting out its policy priorities for the current year. This publication, which has existed since 2014, explains how the Authority selects its formal investigations and describes its strategic and sectoral priorities for competition policy.

In line with the priority areas identified in previous years, the Authority intends to continue its actions in the following areas:

  • the telecommunications sector;
  • the retail sector and its relations with suppliers;
  • services to undertakings and consumers;
  • the pharmaceutical sector;
  • public procurement; and
  • logistics services at ports.

The Authority added a new priority to this list: the digital economy. It refers to the Joint memorandum of the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg competition authorities on challenges faced by competition authorities in a digital world, adopted on 2 October 2019 and published recently. In this field, the Authority will focus on potential abuses of dominance and anticompetitve practices facilitated by data and algorithms.

As for the types of infringement prioritized, the Belgian Competition Authority will seek the appropriate balance between obvious hardcore infringements and more complex or innovative cases.

Nevertheless, the current COVID-19 crisis affects the handling of the files by the Authority. Some investigations are still ongoing and the object of requests of information however the Authority is not able to conduct dawn raids. Furthermore, the Authority has invited companies not to notify planned mergers if they are not urgent. Finally, judicial proceedings have been suspended until further notice.

Annabelle Lepièce, Partner, Brussels annabelle.lepiece@cms-db.com