Under the statutory powers vested in the president of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), the regulator deals with issues including competition protection, contractual advantage, control of concentrations and investments, payment gridlock, and consumer protection. The activity plan for 2023 developed by UOKiK shows the areas considered key for this year.
In the area of competition protection, the president of UOKiK will take actions of a sovereign nature (conducting proceedings and issuing decisions) as well as soft measures (e.g. policy pronouncements to market participants), and also conduct inspections and searches at businesses—all to detect and eliminate practices restricting competition, especially cartel arrangements. The office also seeks to improve its effectiveness at detecting anti-competitive agreements in public procurement by building and implementing appropriate IT tools using statistical analysis.
In the area of contractual advantage, the activities of the regulator will be aimed at improving the conditions for functioning of the agri-food market by eliminating practices unfairly exploiting contractual advantage. According to UOKiK, this will help raise Poland’s food security.
In the area of payment gridlock, the president of UOKiK will take measures aimed at reducing the formation of payment backlogs in key sectors of the economy. The priority sectors listed by the authority are:
In 2023, the authority intends to update its investment control guidelines, supplementing them with clarification of uncertainties in application of the Control of Certain Investments Act. This should make it easier for businesses to assess whether a case is notifiable to the president of UOKiK under that act.
As in previous years, in 2023 the president of UOKiK will undertake a number of activities in the area of consumer protection. For the authority, this year’s priority is consumer protection in the areas of:
- Digital transformation (telecommunications, e-commerce)
- The financial market
- Ecological transformation.
These sectors may not come as a surprise. The choice is largely driven by implementation of EU consumer directives into the Polish legal system (in particular the Omnibus Directive (2019/2161) and the Digital Directive (2019/770)) which impose a number of new obligations on e-commerce businesses, among others. And measures in the area of green transition can be linked to the negative phenomenon of greenwashing.
Additionally, in 2023 the authority plans to:
- Implement into the Polish legal system the Representative Actions Directive (Directive (EU) 2020/1828 on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers)
- Monitor activities for compliance by businesses with obligations to make prices of goods and services visible
- Assume the presidency of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) for one year (July 2023 – June 2024), a forum for cooperation to combat unfair trade practices targeting the interests of consumers around the world.
Agnieszka Jelska, attorney-at-law, Competition & Consumer Protection practice, Wardyński & Partners