In September 2017 the Competition Authority officially closed the investigation into the mobile phone retail market which it opened following three complaints regarding alleged coordinated practices and potential abuse of dominant position. The authority issued a number of recommendations and intends to continue to monitor the mobile phone retail market until October 2018.
The Competition Authority recently initiated an investigation into the mobile phone market in connection with alleged coordinated practices and potential abuse of the dominant position of the market players. It had been alleged that three telecommunications operators had coordinated a change in standard pre-paid packages.
In 2016 the Competition Authority issued 52 decisions relating to merger control, abuse of dominance and restrictive practices. No fines were imposed in any of the decisions. The authority also reviewed and commented on numerous legislation proposals, including the production and marketing of tobacco and cigarettes and airport fees.
The Competition Authority recently introduced a number of new bylaws. The bylaws aim to regulate short-form procedures on the assessment of concentrations, commitment procedures and the administration of electronic data during Competition Authority inspections.
The Competition Authority recently initiated ex officio proceedings against MIKA KORÇA JSC. MIKA KORÇA holds a dominant position on the tobacco market as the sole Albanian company exporting tobacco products and the only purchaser of tobacco from farmers. The authority has established that the prices at which farmers sell tobacco does not cover their high production costs, and that the average price paid by MIKA KORÇA is lower than the average price paid in the European Union.
In 2015 the Competition Authority issued 51 decisions addressing, among other things, restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance. Of 50 complaints submitted that year, 22 related to the electronic communications market. The authority often faces delays in court proceedings and 2015 was no exception, with six commission decisions appealed before the court.
The Competition Commission has adopted new guidelines on a simplified form and procedure for assessing merger notifications for transactions which raise no competition concerns. In order to increase transparency, on receipt of notification the commission will publish the basic information regarding the concentration on its official website. This will allow interested parties to submit their comments and observations.
The Competition Authority recently adopted the Fine Leniency Programme, which elaborates on the leniency rules set out in the Competition Law. The programme details the procedure for applying for and granting leniency for the full or partial reduction of fines. The programme explains that any undertaking which initiates a cartel cannot benefit from the leniency proceedings.
The Ministry of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship has proposed a draft law which would amend the rules applicable to the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The draft law would controversially reinstate the compulsory membership of legal entities of the chambers, which the ministry states is necessary due to the financial difficulties faced by the chambers.
The Competition Authority recently adopted new guidelines on merger control conditions and obligations intended to comply with EU regulations. The authority also recently approved a concentration in the financial leasing market and announced an investigation into the banking sector to assess whether competition is being limited or distorted as a result of the behaviour of one or more banks.
Parliament recently passed the National Business Centre Law, which aims to promote business by offering registration and licensing procedures through one institution. Following the establishment of the National Business Centre, the National Registration Centre and the National Licensing Centre will cease to exist. The new centre will issue advisory opinions on the registration and licensing of commercial entities.
Parliament has passed the Value Added Tax (VAT) Law and the Tax Procedures Law. The amendments to the VAT Law require the tax administration to reimburse VAT within 60 days of a taxpayer filing a request and within 30 days of an exporter filing a request; while the amendments to the Tax Procedures Law establish the Directorate of VAT Reimbursement within the General Tax Directorate.
Certain articles of the Law on Protection of Competition prohibit abuse of a dominant position held by one or more operators in a market. In order to clarify how it intends to implement these articles, the Competition Authority recently issued an instruction outlining what constitutes a dominant position and how abuse of a dominant position is assessed.
Parliament recently passed amendments to the Law on the National Registration Centre (NRC). Unless a licence or authorisation is explicitly required for a business, entities holding an NRC registration certificate can now start activities immediately. Other amendments affect the obligations and timeframe for registration and the electronic portal for NRC data and extracts.
The new Insurance and Reinsurance Law aims to strengthen and develop the insurance sector, while focusing on the effective protection of consumer interests, and to ensure that the insurance market functions in a safe, stable and transparent manner. Insurers have two years in which to take all necessary measures in order to comply with its provisions.
Amendments to the Law on Entrepreneurs and Commercial Companies recently came into force, bringing the law partially into line with EU company law directives. The law provides for a transitional period of three months from its entry into force for companies to harmonise their articles of association with the new rules; failure to do so will result in a fine and no further cooperation from the National Registration Centre.
The registration of businesses in Albania is governed by the Law on the National Registration Centre. In light of Albania's obligation to harmonise its laws with EU law, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Undertaking has issued for comment draft changes to this law.
Parliament passed the Law on Late Payments for Contractual and Commercial Obligations, which is partially aligned with the EU Directive on Combating Late Payment in Commercial Transactions. The new law sets out the rules for the calculation of legal interest for late payments in commercial transactions involving the supply of goods and services between commercial undertakings and public authorities.
Albania has not yet introduced specific regulations dealing with temporary agency work, as per the EU Temporary Agency Work Directive. However, the Labour Code does make provision for secondments. The seconding employer may put an employee at the disposal of the host employer under a secondment agreement, after having obtained the employee's consent.
Amendments to the Civil Code which introduced new provisions on agency agreements recently entered into force. The approved amendments and additions have resulted in more specific and detailed provisions on, among other things, the remuneration of agents and the freedom to contract between the principal and the agent.