'Soft law' methods turned out to be most effective during a pandemic

FAS Russia Deputy Head Andrey Tsyganov spoke about the activities of the antimonopoly service during the COVID-19 crisis and discussed the development of competition with experts and representatives of Russian companies

"Russia's economic development this year has been largely determined by the spread of the new coronavirus infection COVID-19. The main task for FAS Russia during this period was to protect people and support the continuous operation of the business. In the very first days of the introduction of restrictive measures, the antimonopoly authority began monitoring prices for socially significant goods and personal protective equipment," said Andrey Tsyganov at the beginning of a meeting organized jointly by the Association of Business Ethics and the Center for Business Ethics The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with the support of Saint Petersburg State University.

According to the speaker, the rapid adaptation of the department to the challenges of the pandemic is also evidenced by the expansion of antitrust controls: - "FAS Russia is specified by long cases. Society demanded a quick solution to problems, so we began to widely use soft law methods - warnings and cautions, which in most cases had a positive effect. Thanks to this, we sought either to lower prices or to refuse to raise them and most importantly, to "soothe" the rush demand for socially significant goods. I want to emphasize that, according to our observations, the causes of price increases often lie not in the systemic problem, but the unscrupulous and unethical behaviour of individual market participants."

The deputy head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia also highlighted the activities of the antimonopoly authority in strategic areas, emphasizing that the pandemic did not affect service plans: even in the context of telecommuting, the department did not cease control over the implementation of national projects in the regions, and over the implementation of the National Competition Development Plan, approved by Decree of the President of Russia - "Now, we are fully examining cases of violation of antitrust laws and transactions of economic concentration. A draft of the next National Plan for 2021-2025 has already been prepared: a new competition development plan has been developed based on those changes that need to be introduced into the legislation and practice of its enforcement, including based on our experience of recent months," Andrey Tsyganov explained.

The deputy head of the FAS Russia also spoke about the preparation of a bill on self-regulation in the advertising industry. In particular, it was noted that the elements of self-regulation and co-regulation in advertising have been present in the Russian legislation for 25 years, and the draft law developed by the antimonopoly department is clarifying and concretizing, creates a comfortable legal field for both the business community and citizens, the state, and forms a system checks and balances based on international experience.

The participants were especially interested in the issue of antitrust compliance, including within the framework of multinational companies. "FAS Russia supports a risk-based approach in antitrust law. The presence of antitrust compliance allows the company to reduce forecast risk. This tool has shown its effectiveness at the initial stage. Therefore, the agency plans to generalize this new element of antitrust law1, probably in the form of clarifications from the FAS Russia Presidium," concluded Andrey Tsyganov.

During the discussion of business ethics, the service representative noted that even in crisis conditions, when, according to many experts, the topic of "survival at any cost" comes to the fore, ethics and integrity of doing business are always relevant, and the assessment of reputation risks is necessary for effective management.