The Sofia Competition Forum is a joint initiative of the Bulgarian Commission on Protection of Competition and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. On 11 July 2012 the Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Petko Draganov, and the Chairman of the Bulgarian competition authority, Mr. Petko Nikolov, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, by which both institutions joined forces to establish and affirm the Sofia Competition Forum as an informal platform for technical assistance, exchange of experience and consultations in the field of competition policy and enforcement.
The Forum strives to foster cooperation and the development of regional ties in the Balkan region, thus ensuring a uniform application of competition rules. The SCF aims to assist countries in the region in adopting and enforcing competition law and to maximize the benefits for these countries of well-functioning markets. Besides the competition authorities of the region as the main target group in this project, the cooperation with the judiciary, the academia and the business community are a key priority of the SCF. Building on existing international fora, such as UNCTAD, OECD and the ICN, the Forum aims to provide the competition authorities of the region with a platform to exchange information and expertise in the field of competition policy. In view of the fact that most countries in the region face similar challenges in their transition to market economy, the problems in competition law enforcement are also of the same kind. The creation and improvement of competition legislation, capacity building, application of the best practices in law enforcement, and finding common solutions to the specific competition concerns in the region are key objectives of the SCF. Dialogue is mainly focused on issues related to:
• Improving the competition legislation, which fits the specific legal and economic structure and can best address the development needs of the young competition authorities in the region;
• Institution building of the competition authorities;
• Capacity building for efficient enforcement of competition law and policy;
• Negotiation process for EU membership.
The Sofia Competition Forum is designed to provide capacity building assistance and policy advice through seminars and workshops on competition law and policy. By maintaining a web-based platform for publication of information, materials and presentations, as well as for conducting webinars, the SCF expects to further facilitate the cooperation between competition authorities in the region and foster the development of regional relations among them.
The launch conference of the Sofia Competition Forum took place on 12 November 2012 in Sofia and welcomed participants from the beneficiary competition agencies, as well as representatives of EU competition authorities, DG Competition, UNCTAD, OECD and many others. At the end of the conference, the competition authorities from the Balkan region signed the Sofia Statement expressing their willingness and resolve to continue their cooperation in the framework of this initiative.