New Bulgarian Protection of Competition Act
The new PCA provides for new market thresholds below which agreements, decisions and concerted practices shall be considered to have a minor effect and therefore the general prohibition shall not be applicable in such cases.
Market thresholds for agreements between competitors
The aggregate market share held by the parties to the agreement should not exceed 10 % on any of the relevant markets affected by the agreement.
Market thresholds for agreements between non-competitors
The market share held by each of the parties to the agreement should not exceed 15 % on any of the relevant markets affected by the agreement.
Non-application of the de minimis doctrine
The de minimis doctrine, however, shall not apply where the agreements, decisions or concerted practices have as their object and effect:
- the direct or indirect fixing of prices;
- the allocation of markets or customers; or
- the limitation of output and sales.
The Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) may introduce through a decision block exemption criteria for certain categories of vertical agreements3.
No preliminary notification
The new PCA left behind the requirement for preliminary notification of agreements in order for CPC to assess whether or not such agreements comply with the competition rules in general, and whether or not such agreement could benefit from the respective block exemption. In particualr. Rather, this matter is now left to the discretion of the parties to such an agreement.
III. ABUSE OF MONOPOLY AND DOMINANT POSITION
The repealed PCA used to contain a presumption that an undertaking holding more than 35% market share on the respective relevant market on which it was positioned would be considered as dominant.
The new PCA does not contain such a presumption any longer. Rather an undertaking is considered to be dominant when in view of its market share, financial resources, means of access to the market, technological level of development and economic relations with other undertakings may prevent the competition on the respective relevant market as such an undertaking may afford to act independently from its competitors, suppliers and buyers.