The Agency for the Protection of Competition (AZK) had earlier announced that by the end of last year, it would be known whether Electric power distribution company (EPCG) violated the Law on State Aid Control by acquiring the property of the Steel Plant, but that decision has been postponed to the first quarter of this year.
The President of the AZK Council, Dragan Damjanović, said that this issue is important for the Montenegrin public and has a pronounced social component, which is why it is among their priorities.
In the same period, a decision is expected regarding the existence of any economic continuity between the airline companies ToMontenegro and Montenegro Airlines (MA), and Damjanović announces imminent legal changes aimed at strengthening their independence.
When asked if the intention of EPCG-Željezara to find partners to continue steel production is acceptable from the perspective of AZK, he said that in this challenging moment for the continuation of the steel plant’s operation, when legal options remain limited, it would be a generally acceptable solution.
“It is important that the potential investor is not a related party to EPCG and that it is not a company in majority state ownership. If EPCG-Željezara were to continue steel production, there would be economic continuity between the two companies, which is contrary to EU rules and obligations that Montenegro has under the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA),” said Damjanović.
Damjanović said that the current legislative framework restricts the work of AZK in several aspects, both in terms of building administrative capacities and further digitalization, imposing fines, and other activities.
“We are preparing new legislation that will transpose the Directive strengthening the national competition authorities through more effective enforcement of competition rules and ensuring the proper functioning of the internal market into Montenegrin legislation. In this way, AZK will gain financial independence, and penalty policy will become our competence,” explained Damjanović.
He added that in this way, Montenegro will get a modern institution that will monitor the market according to EU rules and provide citizens with a wider range of high-quality products.
Damjanović believes that the political component in decision-making on state aid is often very pronounced, while the social component of such cases makes decisions additionally challenging compared to the current legislative framework.