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DG Dr. Thanner: No application for another term of office

Dr. Theodor Thanner has made the decision not to apply for another term of office as Director General for Competition.

After 15 successful years as General Director for Competition and Head of the Austrian Federal Competition Authority, it is time to hand over the management of the BWB.

The year 2021 was one of the most labor-intensive in the history of the BWB. Among other cases, the two largest proceedings in the construction cartel were brought to an end. In the digital sector, there were several initiatives to ensure a functioning market in Austria in 2021.

"So now is the time to turn to new tasks", Dr. Thanner.

The positive results are mainly due to the technically well-trained and very committed employees, but also to the BWB management team.

The staff of the BWB stood up for healthy, fair and strong competition in Austria, Europe and beyond with great commitment, dedication and perseverance. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the results and successes of the BWB", Dr. Thanner.

As of today (until the decision of succession), Deputy Director General Dr. Natalie Harsdorf-Borsch will head the BWB on an interim basis.

Competition in Austria raised to a new level

On July 1, 2002, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (BWB) was set up on the basis of the Competition Act (WettbG). The BWB is an independent authority and deals with the investigation and prosecution of violations of Austrian and European competition law.

On July 1, 2007, Dr. Theodor Thanner took the position of Director General for Competition and held it for three periods. During this time, the BWB was able to gain recognition across all industries, in Austria and on an international level.

Balance sheet, facts and figures

Cartel prosecution

In the past 15 years, the BWB's investigative activities have uncovered and broken up numerous cartels. For example in the area of ​​elevators and escalators, the chemical industry, in the food and electronics trade, freight forwarding, insulation materials, in dairy processing, breweries and, most recently, in the construction industry.

The BWB's leniency program made a major contribution to the success of the investigation. So far there have been a total of 110 leniency applications,

The established whistleblowing system also contributed to the success of investigations. So far there have been 210 whistleblowing reports.

More than 120 dawn raids were carried out by the BWB to uncover cartels.

As a result of applications by the BWB to the Cartel Court, more than EUR 300 million in fines were imposed on companies - in particular for vertical and horizontal agreements, abuse of market power and prohibited mergers.

Prevention and Information

One focus of the work of the BWB is the field of prevention and information.

The publication of guidelines and manuals as well as the organization of events on current competition law issues have therefore become an essential part of modern, transparent and targeted work of the BWB.

So far, the BWB has published over 25 manuals, brochures and positions on various topics, such as dawn raids, vertical price maintenance, settlements, compliance and the leniency program.

A total of 8 industry surveys were also carried out on the topics of taxi and rental car market, health, ATM fees, mobile communications, electricity and gas, fuel, funeral services as well as cement and concrete market.

A total of 44 competition talks were held in order to intensify contact with the competition law practice, at which current questions of antitrust law were discussed with experts.

The guests included colleagues from Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and the European Commission, representatives from science, competition law practice, media and courts.

In total over 100 speakers and 2000 participants attended the events.

Merger control

Mergers of companies are to be examined to see whether competition is impaired as a result.

During this time, the BWB reviewed a total of 5,200 national and 7,000 European mergers.

High quality of work recognized nationally and internationally

The BWB is one of the world's most efficient and best performing competition authorities - despite its limited staff and budget. The high quality of the BWB and its employees has been confirmed regularly for years in international rankings. BWB projects have also received several awards from international institutions.

The high quality of the BWB's work is also recognized at the national level. In the past  years, the Parliament has always unanimously taken note of the respective activity reports of the BWB.

Regardless of the steadily increasing work intensity, the BWB did not receive the necessary personnel and budget for years.

However, this fact did not prevent the BWB from continuing to stand up for competition in Austria and Europe and to act according to its motto "... fairness matters!".