Budapest, 21 May 2024 - The President of the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) and its Chief Economist attended the annual conference of the International Competition Network (ICN), the global organisation of national competition authorities. During the four-day event, participants discussed several topical issues in plenary sessions and panel discussions. Csaba Balázs Rigó, President of the GVH, participated as a speaker in the key plenary session „Monitoring and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Agency Actions”, organised by the Agency Effectiveness Working Group. In the framework of the expert discussion, the participants sought answers to the questions of how to quantify the societal benefits of competition authorities, what methods are used by the national competition authorities and what are their implications.

The International Competition Network was established in 2001. Its aim is to provide an informal forum for competition authorities around the world to share experiences and practices and to discuss current trends and changes in competition policy. The organisation currently has national competition authorities from 141 countries as members.

The ICN annually organises a professional conference. In 2021, the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) was honoured to host the organisation’s annual event. The GVH’s international presence is further demonstrated by the election of its President, Csaba Balázs Rigó, as a permanent member of the ICN’s Steering Group (SG) in October 2023. With this membership, the President of the GVH sits at the same table with the heads of competition authorities from countries such as Australia, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, Singapore, Portugal, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Kenya. This is the first time that a member from the Central and Eastern European region has been elected to the high-level competition body.

At the ICN conference, which took place from 14 to 17 May 2024, participants from around 80 countries from all over the world discussed various topics of great relevance to the GVH. One session included a discussion by the heads of the competition authorities on the role of state-owned enterprises, including perspectives from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Csaba Balázs Rigó, President of the GVH, participated as a speaker in the key plenary session „Monitoring and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Agency Actions” organised by the Agency Effectiveness Working Group. The six plenary participants used their own examples to show why it is a good investment for every country to have a competition authority and what tangible benefits can be derived from competition decisions and proposals. This is linked to the social benefits that the GVH regularly calculates from its activities. The purpose is to give consumers an order of magnitude picture of the financial benefits of the work of the NCA compared to a situation without the NCA.

In addition to imposing fines, the GVH’s anti-competitive activities directly benefit domestic consumers. According to the GVH’s impact assessment based on international methodology, the prevention of the harmful effects of restrictive agreements, dominant abuses and anti-competitive mergers detected in the past six years (2018-2023) has brought a total benefit of HUF 84 billion 961 million to the citizens of Hungary. This means that the GVH has generated more than double the budget spent on its operations in welfare benefits, without even including the impact of consumer protection cases.

The ICN annual conference also featured a panel discussion entitled „ Navigating Economic Turbulence: The Role of Competition Authorities in Macroeconomic Stabilization and Growth”, moderated by Zombor Berezvai, Chief Economist and Head of the Competition Economics and Market Research Section of the GVH. In the other sessions of the four-day conference, participating competition law experts also explored how market research can help understand competition in emerging markets.

The ICN also launched a special project to examine competition law issues in the agri-food market in response to the high food inflation of recent years. The results of a survey carried out in this context were presented at the conference, showing that, like the GVH, competition authorities around the world have been dealing with food markets in recent years.

Among other issues, the current state of merger control was also on the agenda of the international conference. In this context, in 2023, the GVH closed 92% of merger notifications within four days by issuing a clearance certificate. This means that the Hungarian Competition Authority continues to have one of the fastest merger control procedures in Europe.