The Troika’s Influence on Irish Competition Policy

Sinead Eaton, Jun 13, 2013

When extending the bailout facility availed of by Ireland, the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and Commission of the European Union, now known as “the troika,” insisted that a number of measures be taken in respect of the Irish economy. While many of these related to reducing the costs of the public sector and the reduction of the country’s social welfare costs, some related directly to Irish competition law.

A review of the Irish economy led the troika representatives to conclude that there were sectors of the Irish economy that were sheltered from competition, that the Irish Competition Authority needed greater enforcement powers, and that greater penalties were required for the effective enforcement of Irish competition law.

So one consequence of Ireland’s loan facility from the troika was the passing of the Competition Act, 2012. That piece of legislation essentially does three things:

1.     The Act increases the levels of sanction for breaches of Irish and EU competition law provisions,

2.     The Act encourages greater private enforcement of competition law, and

3.     It better facilitates the work of the Irish Competition Authority.

Ironically, another consequence of the reviews of Ireland’s finances since 2008 has been a plan, by Government, to reduce the number of State agencies. So, the Competition Authority will merge with the National Consumer Agency. The new Consumer and Competition Authority has not yet been officially constituted and legislation establishing the new body is awaited with interest.

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