The newly established UK Competition Network (UKCN), an alliance of UK sector regulators and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has today published a Statement of Intent which sets out how the bodies will work together to ensure the consistent and effective use of competition powers across all sectors.
The UKCN has been created to help deliver the government’s desire to see stronger competition across the whole economy, with the CMA taking the lead to ensure close co-operation over competition activity between itself and the sector regulators.
The UKCN brings together the CMA with the Civil Aviation Authority, Financial Conduct Authority, Ofcom, Ofgem, Ofwat, Office of Rail Regulation and the Utility Regulator for Northern Ireland. These sector regulators all have a duty to promote competition in the interests of consumers. The healthcare regulator, Monitor, which has a different statutory duty, not to promote competition but to prevent anti-competitive behaviour, will attend the Network with observer status.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which established the CMA, also placed a strengthened obligation on sector regulators to consider using their concurrent competition powers ahead of regulatory ones, where appropriate. The CMA’s proposed vision, values and strategy identifies the regulated sectors as a focus for greater competition activity.
The Statement identifies the following areas of focus for the UKCN:
- strategic dialogue
- enforcement cooperation
- enhancing capabilities
- sharing best practice
- annual concurrency report
CMA Chief Executive, Alex Chisholm, said:
The Statement of Intent is exactly that - a clear commitment to close and regular working over competition issues. It demonstrates the positive response from all regulators to the call for greater use of existing competition powers, for both preventing anti-competitive behaviour and opening up markets to greater competition for the benefit of UK consumers and businesses. This is all the more important when UK consumers are facing significant cost of living pressures and want to know that they are getting a competitive deal from suppliers.
A regular dialogue means we can identify opportunities, monitor market developments and common issues and, where necessary, work together to take action. It will provide not just closer understanding but the chance to share resources and combine sector knowledge with competition expertise.
We believe the UKCN is an international first in co-ordinating sector regulation and competition enforcement in this way. Joint projects are already underway between the OFT and some of the UKCN regulators to promote competition for the benefit of businesses and consumers so this statement points the way ahead for continuing and more intensive co-operation in future.
Notes for editors
- Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor or Siobhan Allen (020 7271 0242) or Kasia Reardon (020 7211 8901).
- The UK’s new unified competition body, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), launched in October in preparation for the agency going live in April 2014. The CMA will bring together the Competition Commission (CC) with the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in order to promote competition, both within and outside the United Kingdom, for the benefit of consumers. The latest wave of senior appointments was announced last month.
- The CMA will not initially be taking on any casework, which will remain with the OFT and CC until April 2014, but it will be empowered to make the necessary preparations to allow the new authority to assume its responsibilities next year.
The speech given by CMA chairman David Currie to the Beesley Lectures on 7 November 2013 included a section on the concurrency regime and the UKCN.