17 March 2016
Category : Interview
“Competition makes it possible for us to choose”
The National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) ensures that we consumers and users have a competitive market so that we can choose what we want to consume. In addition, it is working so that countries like Tunisia can also enjoy these benefits. Juan Gradolph, International Director of the CNMC talks to us about it.Juan Gradolph, International Director of the CNMC
What are the areas of the National Markets and Competition Commission?
Since 2013, the year the Commission was created by combining or uniting various earlier bodies, we have had a series of competencies, the first being to apply regulations to defend competition in all markets in the economy. We also have supervisory and regulatory competencies in certain key and strategic industries, such as telecommunications, the audiovisual area, energy, and transport, which includes airports, railways and the postal sector.
How does the Commission’s work benefit citizens?
The truth is that our work can seem a bit abstract and remote, but, at the end of the day, we all have to pay our electricity and telephone bills, we all take an airplane or train once in a while, or buy a product in a store.
And our objective is that these everyday actions take place under optimal conditions so that we can all choose the best product, in terms of quality and price, and to ensure that the markets function competitively. Competition makes it possible for us to choose, because when there is no competition we have to accept the idea of “this is all there is, so take it or leave it”.
Is this where the Commission’s work of informing and applying pressure comes in?
There are various functions. There are regulatory functions aimed at creating the conditions for an optimal result. There is a supervisory function: we exercise oversight so that things operate correctly. And there is a sanctioning function when obligations are not met or when companies do business in an anti-competitive way. Last year, for example, with regard to defence of competition, we levied 550 million euros in fines and overturned 14 anti-competitive agreements between companies to share markets amongst themselves.
Moreover, we do very important work to promote improvements in competition through improved regulations, and advisory work to bring proposals for regulatory improvements to the government for it to adopt the ones it deems appropriate.
How do you mediate in resolving disputes between companies?
In those, we issue a ruling; it’s an arbitration function. When, for example, one telecommunications operator wants access to the network of another and has to negotiate conditions or pricing and they can’t agree, which may or not be due to objective difficulties, the Commission examines these cases and takes binding decisions for both operators in the interest of enabling the two to operate in the markets.
Why did you include the audiovisual area in the National Markets and Competition Commission?
It has been included since the birth of the Commission, but previously it was overseen directly by the Ministry, there was no independent body like us that had these competencies in the audiovisual sector.
How can the Commission help in a project like the one in Tunisia?
We have all the experience of being a European regulatory agency or an authority for defending competition on the front lines. And not only this, I think that, like many Spanish institutions, we have a competitive advantage with other Mediterranean countries: we are a natural bridge between Europe and the Mediterranean, and our cultural proximity facilitates our work compared to agencies from other countries.
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