I believe the Antitrust Compliance Summit & Awards is an excellent opportunity to discuss about compliance programs (specifics, criteria, success and failure stories) and to acknowledge the role they may undertake on wide spreading a true culture of competition on stakeholders and society as a whole. This event, structured in panel discussions and formal awards recognitions, will allow us all to share thorough assessment of effectiveness of compliance programs thus far. I am very much looking forward to participate in this program and to my role as member of the Enforcer Steering Committee.
We are firm believers that proactive competition law compliance by businesses of all sizes is an important factor in well-functioning markets. Accordingly, we welcome this effort to increase awareness of compliance best practices and to demonstrate through dialogue and recognition that a strong culture of compliance, supported by effective policies and procedures, makes good business sense.
Compliance, as well as time to market, constitutes a major strategic challenge for economic players but also for authorities and institutions. What is the rule without the knowledge of this rule, the understanding of issues and risks at stake ? This is most apt when it comes to behavioral rules. Competition law is now part of companies’ codes of conduct which imply for staffs to act in a responsible and ethical manner. Being aware of competition law rules is therefore much more than a legal requirement. It is part of the corporate culture.
Today Competition Law Compliance Programmes are widespread. However, from the perspective of Heads of competition law / Compliance officers in charge, maintaining such programmes as top priorities is not a walk in the park. To the contrary, it is a real challenge to always keep them up especially when they are themselves in competition with many compliance requirements imposed by legislations, e.g. anti bribery, money laundering.
Concurrences identified this issue and started months ago to propose dedicated events. The Awards Compliance Initiative, that I’d like to commend, will be the high point of exchanges started in February 2019 at Concurrences’ initiative but also, and it has to be stressed, in the framework of a dedicated working group set-up by the French Competition Authority in 2020. More broadly, it will gather international actors, authorities and institutions and allow them to share their views and more practically, their best recipes and tools.
Compliance should be in focus for competition authorities. Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, the Antitrust Compliance Summit & Awards initiative is to be lauded.
You have probably heard that it is much better to be safe than sorry. This maxim, applicable to so many situations, can also be used when we discuss corruption, since the act of anticipating situations prevents they spread through public or private companies. Corruption, besides compromising the money of entities, whether public or private, also puts their reputation at stake. On the other hand, compliance programs may establish an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct and a commitment to comply with the organization’s internal and external standards. In this way, they promote the fight against corruption and reduce the number of lawsuits and administrative proceedings, as well as the chances of financial losses. Experience shows that an effective compliance program can bring about great results. By adopting such programs, we ensure the maintenance of competition in the market and prevent the emergence of violations and harm caused by the lack of competition. Moreover, if we keep a company from losing value, it certainly creates benefits to the entire supply chain, that is, the company itself, investors, consumers, trading partners, and even authorities, as prevention is always preferable to repression, incurring lower costs to society. In view of this, it is important to recognize initiatives that aim to foster and encourage companies to have robust compliance programs that are capable of mapping risks and minimizing the practice of illegal acts, whether these are related to competition law or other matters.