Dear ICN Community,
I would like to use this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and prosperous new year! We have interesting events to look forward to in the ICN. I am also very happy to note that the ICN is continuing to grow as a community and that we are able to welcome new members to the ICN continuously.
2015 Annual Conference
• The next annual conference will take place from April 28 until May 1, 2015, in Sydney, Australia. Conference panels will discuss agency effectiveness, competition advocacy, the legal analysis of tying arrangements, international enforcement cooperation in cartel and merger investigations, and merger remedies. This year’s host’s “special project” will focus on online vertical restraints. The responses will serve as the springboard for discussion at the annual conference host’s showcase program. More information on the conference including a first draft agenda is available on the conference website at www.icn2015.com.au
• Registration is open until March 2 and I encourage you to register as soon as possible. Like in the past, NGAs will be invited by their National Competition Authorities to attend the event.
• Request for Member Input at the Sydney Conference: Work is underway for presentation at the Sydney conference, including guidance documents, workbook chapters, reports, and video training modules. A key input into these work products is member experiences. I kindly request that you review the themes of the plenary and breakout sessions of the conference agenda, which will be updated with this information by January 30, 2015. Please contact the Working Group co-chair, if your jurisdiction may be able to share its experience during the Sydney conference.
ICN Town Hall Meeting
At the end of last year, I held another ICN Town Hall meeting with ICN members and NGAs. Bruno Lasserre, President, France’s Autorité de la Concurrence, and Vinicius Marques de Carvalho, President of the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense, responsible for member and NGA engagement, and outreach and implementation, respectively, we presented an overview of topics addressed by the Steering Group during this past year, including suggestions for regular strategic planning; possible discussion on sectors in hot topic discussions at the Steering Group level; inclusiveness, including funding and the implementation and marketing of ICN’s work. I also reiterated my commitment to advancing our three core themes – the focus of ICN work products, inclusiveness of members and NGAs, and bolstering efforts to promote the implementation of ICN work products. They should form an integral part of our future work.
• Congratulations to our Working Groups for hosting three very successful workshops. The Cartel Working Group hosted a workshop on “Enhancing International Cooperation in the Fight against Cartels” in October 2014 in Taipei, Taiwan. The Advocacy Working Group hosted a workshop in Balaclava, Mauritius in November 2014. And last but not least the Merger Working Group concluded its workshop in New Delhi, India in December 2014.
• In Search Of New Working Group Chairs: Since 2011, Working Groups are co-chaired by three agencies in an effort to broaden participation in the ICN’s governance and enable more members to assume responsibility for the management of Working Groups. ICN Members interested in serving as a Working Group co-chair and Subgroup co-chair for a three year term from 2015-2018 are asked to submit an expression of interest to the ICN Secretariat, outlining how they meet the selection criteria by February 13, 2015. The criteria are set out in section 4.2 of the Operational Framework.
• Future Work: Even though we have now progressed to the busiest time of the ICN year, I urge all of you to already think about future work. The Working Groups are currently drafting the work plans for the upcoming ICN year. I strongly encourage the entire ICN community to think about what you would like to see on the agenda and to reach out by participating on Working Group conference calls, or contacting the respective Working Group Chairs as soon as possible or the latest during the 2015 Annual Conference.
Even though the ICN is a virtual network, the face-to-face meetings at workshops and Annual Conferences play a vital part in the success of the ICN. To enable as many ICN members as possible to benefit from these meetings and to maintain the ICN’s website, the ICN is dependent on funding contributions from members. The ICN’s website is a central communication hub for our members, NGAs and interested parties to view and engage in the work of the ICN. I therefore would like to encourage ICN members to contribute financially any amount to the ICN.
I look forward to working with all of you and welcome your feedback on any of the above or other ideas you may wish to share. Please also feel free to contact my colleagues at the International Unit, Barbara Schulze and Shiraz Kutar.
With best wishes for a new year,