Both parties claim that competition policy is an important factor in ensuring consumer welfare and that it should provide for a level playing field and legal certainty to the business community in the market.
By WHAT'S NEW IN THE EUARI SYRQUIN
European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes today (Wednesday) is winding up a visit to Beijing where she is holding ministerial meetings on competition policy and on enhancing cooperation between European and Chinese competition authorities. The parties are also discussing the Chinese and European economies and the role of competition policy in enhancing their competitiveness. The visit coincides with the adoption of the first comprehensive Anti Monopoly Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China. The visit takes place in the framework of the EU-China Competition Policy Dialogue and is the latest in a range of EU-China contacts to discuss competition policy matters that began in 2003.
After several years of work, the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress adopted the Anti Monopoly Law on August 30. Its promulgation marks the end of a key legislative process, but it also marks the beginning of a concerted effort by the new anti-monopoly authorities to flesh out implementing rules on crucial provisions on antitrust and merger control before the law enters into force on August 1, 2008.
In that framework, representatives of the European Commission have met the Chinese authorities on several occasions in recent years to discuss how competition policy could be implemented in China, and are said to continue to follow closely the implementation of the Anti Monopoly Law.
EU-China Competition Policy Dialogue
The Dialogue comes within the framework of the Joint Statement adopted at the EU-China Summit of September 5, 2001, in which competition policy was earmarked as one of the areas where the EU-China dialogue should be intensified. China has formulated various competition-related policies, laws and regulations. On its side, the EU has a relatively complete set of competition legislation. This provides a basis for a dialogue between both parties on competition legislation and enforcement. The increasingly significant role of multilateral forums where competition matters are discussed such as the International Competition Network (ICN) should be taken into account in the dialogue between the EU and China on competition policy.
The primary objective of the Competition Policy Dialogue between the authorities in charge of competition policy in China and the services responsible in the European Commission is to establish a permanent forum of consultation and transparency between China and the EU in this area, and to enhance the EU's technical and capacity-building assistance to China in the area of competition policy.
Within this framework, the aim shall be to increase both sides' understanding and awareness of current and forthcoming policy approaches, legislation and related issues, in China and the EU, and to promote exchanges and cooperation between China and the EU in the area of competition policy and legislation.
Both parties claim that competition policy is an important factor in ensuring consumer welfare and that it should provide for a level playing field and legal certainty to the business community in the market. The dialogue should promote mutual considerations. The Dialogue could also contribute to the establishment of smooth and sustainable trade relations between China and the EU.
The Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of Chine (MOFCOM) and the Directorate for Policy Development and Coordination of Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission are responsible for coordinating the dialogue.
The Dialogue, which will be co-chaired by a senior official (in principle the head of a Department or Directorate) in charge of competition policy and enforcement nominated by each administration, is comprised of appropriate officials of each party, accompanied by officials from other relevant authorities, as may be appropriate.
The contact points are the Treaty and Law Department of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Directorate for Policy Development and Coordination of the European Commission Directorate-General for Competition. The EU and China agreed that any activity or set up stemming from this dialogue shall be taken by consensus. Each party is obligated to promptly notify the other of all changes of their responsible authorities for competition policy, both for legislation and for enforcement. The Dialogue established ad-hoc working groups to facilitate discussions at expert level. The meetings alternate between Beijing and Brussels.
The Dialogue usually deals with anti-trust law and enforcement. It is also used for the exchange of views on current situations, experience and new developments on legislation and enforcement of anti-trust policies. The occasion should be used to setting up of a competition authority exchange of experiences on the set up of competition authorities, as well as their competition advocacy role.
The talks are hoped to bring the EU and China to engage in cooperation to enhance the EU's technical and capacity-building assistance to China in the area of competition policy. In the framework of the EU-China cooperation projects, both parties will endeavor to support the objectives of the Dialogue with appropriate competition-related technical assistance and capacity building activities such as the organization of training, seminars, studies and more.
The author is head of the International Department at the Joseph Shem-Tov law firm.
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