Spain: King of the Road
To celebrate the anniversary of the new Spanish competition authority, this month we are focusing on Spain. The Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC) started its engine on 7 October 2013, as only the third national competition authority since Spain joined the EU in 1986. Appropriately, the CNMC was the result of an eight-party merger of four existing regulators; three regulators that had still to be created; and indeed the former competition authority. It now has the competences of the National Energy Commission (CNE); the Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT); the Railway Regulatory Committee (CRF); the National Commission for the Postal Sector (CNSP); the Commission for the Economic Regulation of Airports; the National Gaming Commission; and the State Council for Audiovisual Media. And in the driving seat the former National Competition Commission’s (CNC) team.
The CNMC kept the previous two-tier structure of an investigatory branch, now known as the Competition Directorate, and in the driving seat the Council as decision-making body. However, it is clearly adamant to draw a fresh departure line between the CNC and its own policy, always referring to the former as being ‘extinct’.
Four of the five pre-existing authorities had officially stated their criticism of the first merger prototype and so had the traffic wardens at the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and even at the European Commission. Undeterred by these headlights on full beam, the CNMC kept a keen eye on the main road ahead. While the extinct authority had still fined the motorised world’s predecessor trade, horse breeding (SNC/0030/13 Criadores de Caballos), the CNMC kick-started formal proceedings against as many as 151 car dealers, conversely closing a pending case against the Spanish motoring federation for allegedly imposing one tyre brand for tests (S/0470/13 RFEDA-3), as previously had been parallel investigations for allegedly imposing one provider for issuing compliance certificates for racing cars (S/0468/13 Real Federación Española de Automovilismo -2) and one insurance company (S/0401/12 Real Federación Española de Automovilismo), respectively.
Its extinct predecessor had paved the ground for multitudinous investigations with its case against 53 road maintenance companies [S/0226/10 Licitaciones carreteras, which gave rise to the judgment commented in Campezo Obras y Servicios, SL and ors, Final NCA decision, OCL 029 (ES 2009), 28th December 2009 also keeping an eye on price-fixing among users such as transport companies (Case S/0397/12 Transportes Madrid, fining 19 undertakings).
Stefan Rating, Rating Legis SLP
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