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Lithuania

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Lithuania

1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(1997) 2007 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(1998) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(1999) 507 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2000)707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1750 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1406 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1204 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered that, where restrictive agreements were concerned, Lithuania had made significant progress in satisfying Community requirements but that the competition authority needed further support in carrying out its activities and providing economic operators with appropriate information. As for State aid, it took the view that the requisite transparency was still lacking and that Lithuania should give priority to establishing an aid inventory covering all measures taken by the State or by regional or local authorities as well as schemes involving state resources. Lastly, it called on Lithuania to resolve the problems resulting from the existence in certain sectors of exclusive or special rights, which were incompatible with the Community acquis.

The November 1998 Report noted that, although Lithuania had taken steps to address some of the short-term priorities of the Accession Partnership and although some progress had been made in implementing competition policy, State aid control clearly remained a problem. Lithuania needed to continue its efforts to create full transparency in the granting of State aid and to establish a comprehensive and up-to-date State aid inventory.

In its 1999 October Report, the Commission emphasised that Lithuania had met the short-term priorities of the Partnership for accession by adopting a new law on competition and various measures relating to State aid designed to guarantee transparency. However, the alignment of existing legislation on State aid remained partial and there was not yet any control of State aid.

The November 2000 Report found that progress had been made in both antitrust and State aid legislation. While including the principles of Community law and the principles of the acquis, the new law on the monitoring of State aid and the amendments to the existing legislation on economic free zones was a significant step forward.

The November 2001 Report recognises that considerable progress has been made with regard to competition, in particular in the field of State aid.

The October 2002 Report concluded that Lithuania had made steady progress in the adoption of legislation on restrictive agreements and State aid and in developing the administrative capacity of the Competition Council.

The November 2003 Report recognises that Lithuania is essentially meeting the commitments arising from the accession negotiations. Lithuania should, however, adopt a more deterrent sanctioning policy in the area of antitrust and further improve its track record of proper application of state aid legislation.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

European Community rules on competition stem from Article 3(g) of the Treaty, which states that the activities of the Community shall include "a system ensuring that competition in the internal market is not distorted". The main areas of application are restrictive agreements and State aid.

The European Agreement with Lithuania, which came into force on 1 February 1995, provides for a competition regime to be applied in trade relations between the Community and Lithuania based on the requirements set out in Articles 81, 82 and 87 of the Treaty (ex-Articles 85, 86 and 92) concerning agreements between undertakings, abuses of dominant position and State aid, and for implementing rules in these fields to be adopted within three years of the entry into force of the Agreement.

Furthermore, the Agreement requires Lithuania to make its rules on competition compatible with those of the Community.

The White Paper refers to the progressive application of the above provisions and of those contained in the merger Regulation (4064/89) and Articles 31 (ex-Article 37) and 86 (ex-Article 90) concerning monopolies and special rights of the Treaty.

EVALUATION

As regards restrictive agreements, dominant positions and mergers, the current legislation is largely in line with the Community acquis. The new law on competition, which entered into force in 1999, incorporated the basic concepts underlying the Community's antitrust rules.

Despite the reasonable results obtained by the Competition Council, familiarity with these rules must be improved, particularly on the part of the business world. Moreover, special training for judges should be further developed.

In the area of state aid, Lithuania has made steady progress by adopting basic provisions on state aid control in 1997, surveillance rules designed to make the sector transparent in 1999 and a new law on state aid control and legislation on free economic zones in 2000. Further efforts are still required to ensure that the rules are properly applied and complied with, particularly with regard to the rescuing and restructuring of firms in difficulty.

Negotiations on this chapter are provisionally closed (see the 2002 Report). Lithuania has not requested any transitional arrangements for this sector. However, it will have to continue improving on its results in respect of both restrictive agreements and State aids.

Last updated: 03.03.2004

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