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Competition Law in a Time of Political and Economic Transformation

 |  July 30, 2020

By: Maciej Bernatt (D’Kart)

The developments in Poland and other EU Member States worry some observers who see the rule of law may be compromised. Does competition law have anything to do with this – and should antitrust scholars be concerned? We asked Maciej Bernatt, a professor of competition law at University of Warsaw, to shed some light on this issue.

Many competition law scholars and practitioners would like to see competition law detached from politics, and for good reasons. In practice, however, this is difficult to achieve. In particular, the relation between competition agencies and national governments can be complicated, and competition agencies may occasionally find themselves in opposition to governmental plans and/or actions. Still, the actual independence of competition authorities, and the existence of effective judicial review of their actions, normally shields the agencies against political interference.

The situation may become more complex in countries that experience a political and economic transformation. The transformation changes the environment in which a competition law system functions, and ultimately may have an indirect impact on it. Let me discuss this using Poland’s 2015-2020 experience as an example. The recent Polish presidential election was won by the incumbent Andrzej Duda. He is linked to the Law and Justice party, which has been governing Poland since 2015. Therefore, this is a good moment for such a reflection. Three processes merit our attention…