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Update from the ICN NGA Liason

November 18th, 2011


Dear ICN Community,

The ICN recently turned 10 years old so I would like to welcome everyone to the first ICN update of the ICN’s second decade! As a reminder, the overarching vision for the ICN’s second decade was presented at the 2011 ICN Annual Conference in The Hague, following consultations with members and NGAs.

1. Working Group Activity
Agency Effectiveness Working Group (AEWG)
The AEWG is currently developing chapters for the Competition Agency Practice Manual. This year, the group plans to complete a chapter on “Effective Knowledge Management” and to conduct a survey of members to inform work on a “Human Resource Management” chapter.

Advocacy Working Group (AWG)
The AWG is currently in year one of a two-year “Benefits Project” which seeks to provide ICN members with knowledge, strategies and arguments for explaining the benefits of competition to stakeholders, and for evaluation of competition interventions. To this end, the AWG has conducted the first two teleseminars of a four part series on Explaining the Benefits of Competition to Government, Business, Media, and the General Public. The AWG is also drafting surveys for its members and NGAs which are due to be sent out in November.

Cartel Working Group (CWG)
The European Commission recently hosted a Cartel Workshop in Bruges from October 10-13, 2011. The theme of the Workshop was “Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Fight against Cartels” and was attended by approximately 230 participants from more than 70 jurisdictions, including over 40 NGAs. The CWG is also conducting a discussion call series on bid rigging with teleseminars taking place approximately once per month from October 2011 to April 2012.

Merger Working Group (MWG)
Following input received from the comprehensive assessment conducted last year, this year the MWG is conducting a project on Economic Analysis in Merger Review. The objective of the project is to promote a better understanding of the role of economic analysis in merger review with a view to updating, over the longer term, Chapter 4 of the 2005 ICN Investigative Techniques Handbook for Merger Review on “The Role of Economics and Economic Evidence in Merger Analysis.” Last month the MWG held the first two calls of a seven part discussion series on economic analysis. Subsequent calls will focus on the analysis of unilateral effects, coordinated effects, and vertical mergers.

Unilateral Conduct Working Group (UCWG)
In the UCWG, work is well underway on Unilateral Conduct Workbook chapters on the objectives of unilateral conduct laws and predatory pricing as well as an introductory module on unilateral conduct for the ICN Curriculum Project. On November 8, the UCWG will hold a webinar on “Abuse of Dominance in the Energy Sector: The EU Experience.” Over the summer, the UCWG organized a webinar on the role of price cost tests in unilateral conduct cases, which included participation from over 150 members and NGAs. A recording of the webinar is posted on the ICN website. In the spring, the group plans on holding regional workshops modeled on the 2010 Brussels workshop.

2. Steering Group Activity
Following the feedback received from members during the ICN Second Decade consultation the Steering Group has chosen to pursue three substantive projects this year on the topics of enforcement cooperation, investigative process, and working with courts/judges. The eventual outputs from these projects will be high-level ‘issues papers’ to be disseminated to the ICN membership ahead of the 2012 Annual Conference, including recommendations for further ICN work in each area.

3. Advocacy and Implementation Network (AIN)
The AIN has held two calls since the Annual Conference in The Hague to further promote ICN work products and raise awareness of the AIN Support Program (AISUP) which provides assistance to ICN members on the use and implementation of ICN work product. Such efforts included the presentation on AIN/AISUP during two “Introduction to ICN” webinars organized for new ICN members in August and September, one of which was held at a Pacific-friendly time. These presentations provided a nuts and bolts overview of the ICN including a description of current projects and an explanation of how members can participate in each, as well as a short summary of existing work product.

Newly accepted members were also provided with information on AIN/AISUP by the Membership Working Group. The AISUP Flyer and ICN Work Products Catalogue were distributed at various fora including the ICN Cartel Workshop in Bruges. Updated versions of the Flyer and the Catalogue will soon be available on the ICN website.

3. ICN Curriculum Project
Building on the highly successful pilot program of training modules presented last year in The Hague, and feedback received from the ICN community, four new modules are being developed this year by teams of agencies and NGAs on the topics of cartels, mergers, unilateral conduct, and competitive effects.

4. 2012 Annual Conference
Conference planning for the 2012 Annual Conference in Rio de Janeiro is well underway. The conference will take place from 17-20 April, 2012. For more information, please visit the conference website at www.icn-rio.org.

5. Reminder: Calendar/Blog
For a list of future ICN events, including upcoming Working Group calls and teleseminars see the ICN Calendar.

For regular updates and highlights from ICN work, member agencies, and the international competition community at large see the ICN Bulletin Board & Blog. Members and NGAs are encouraged to contact icn@ftc.gov if they have items they would like to post to the blog.


Best regards,
Bruno Lasserre
President of the Autorité de la concurrence
NGA Liaison

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