On 15 March 2012 the Dutch competition authority (“NMa”) has published its annual report. It is the first time that only a digital version of the annual report is available. The annual report provides a selection of the most important news items of the past year. In addition the NMa provides a schedule with key figures and an extensive explanation of its field of work. The NMa has divided its report in different sectors.
The NMa identifies the following sectors in its annual report: agriculture, industry and construction, financial and business service, trade, services and transport, network sectors and media and (health)care. The NMa provides a short explanation about each sector and describes the (pending) cases per sector.
Striking is that in 2010 the NMa imposed fines concerning infringements of competition law for a total amount of Euro 137 million. In 2011 “only” for a total amount of Euro 39,7 million fines were imposed. 6 cartels were fined, amongst which cartels of traders of immovable property, collectors of ocean shipping waste and the National General practitioners Association (‘Landelijke Huisartsen Vereniging’). In 2 cases the NMa has imposed fines to persons who gave instructions or exercised de facto leadership to competition law infringements. In addition, the NMa intervened in 2 cases without imposing fines. One of these cases is the adjustment by the travel trade organisation ANVR of its General Agency conditions after the NMa started an investigation. In addition, the NMa made clear in a discussion with the Royal Dutch Society for Physiotherapy (‘Koninklijk Nederlands Genootschap voor Fysiotherapie’) that collective actions in the direction of health insurers involve competition law risks.
The NMa received in 2011, 98 notifications of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures (together ‘concentrations’). A concentration needs to be notified to the NMa if the turnover of the undertakings involved exceeds the turnover thresholds laid down in the Dutch competition act. In that case the NMa considers whether the concentration will effect competition in the Netherlands or a part of it. The most concentrations were approved by the NMa. In 5 cases the undertakings concerned needed a license before they were allowed to implement their concentration. An undertaking needs to request for a license when it appears that the concentration may have an effect on competition and the NMa wishes to investigate those effects further before approving the concentration.
The NMa receives from the ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation a budget for personal and material costs. The NMa did not exceed the budget for 2011. The NMa accounted Euro 29 million of receipts in 2011. The largest part of these receipts arise from imposed fines in 2011 and previous years.
In the annual report extensive attention is paid to the new regulatory authority the Authority Consumer and Market (‘Autoriteit Consument en Markt’ hereafter ‘ACM’). The ACM will get five separate departments which will together perform the regulatory tasks. The new regulatory authority will start on 1 January 2013 by joining the NMa, the Consumer authority and the Independent mail and telecommunications authority. Currently a substantive law is pending in which the procedures, tasks and powers will be streamlined and simplified. The current plan is that this legislative proposal will be submitted to the House of Representatives in the course of 2012 and will enter into force on 1 January 2014.