At the beginning of the year, the AFCA publishes the new allocation of tasks (valid as from 1 January 2024) as issued by its Director General as well as a new organisation chart. Three new Departments and two new Units have been created, a Gender Equality Officer has been appointed, and the Staff Department will now be increasingly focussing on the economy.
The Austrian Federal President appointed Dr. Natalie Harsdorf-Borsch, LL.M. as Director General of the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) on 1 November 2023. She had been Acting Director General since 1 December 2021. Dr. Martin Janda, who has been the Head of AFCA’s Staff Department for many years, continues to be her Acting Deputy.
From 2024 onwards, the AFCA will have three new Departments. The new Case Departments A and B will be made up by lawyers and economists, whose tasks it is to conduct all proceedings in their respective specific sectors.
Case Department A’s remit includes energy, the waste management industry, transport, agriculture and trade. Also being set up are the Unit dedicated to the Federal Act Against Unfair Competition (UWG), and the Unit dedicated to the Fair Competitive Conditions Act (FWBG). The UWG Unit will be headed by Sigrid Tresnak for the time being, while the FWBG Until will be provisionally headed by Georg Seper.
Case Department B will focus on such sectors as the building industry, information, telecommunications, media, leisure, entertainment and postal services, health, pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial services and consumer goods. This specialised department will also deal with all matters related to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), execute the powers pursuant to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation Act (ORF-G), and monitor and investigate issues pertaining to the Interchange Fee Implementation Act (IEVG). The two department head positions will shortly be publicly advertised.
As of 1 January 2024, the former Forensics Department became the Forensics, Data Analysis and AI Department headed by Kerstin Fachathaler. The rapid advances in digitalisation and the rising significance of AI applications have created a need to develop and expand the range of digital tools available to the AFCA. At the same time, data security and integrity must be ensured. With this new department, the AFCA has taken an important step forward in ensuring it is well equipped to meet the demands of modern investigations.
In the Staff Department, there will be an increasing focus on the economy with the hiring of additional economists and the addition of competition monitoring and cartel screening as new areas of responsibility.
Alongside the existing functions of Data Protection Officer and Safety Officer, the new role of Gender Equality Officer will also be introduced in 2024. The new function will be assumed by Gerlinde Padlewski, who has been a part of the AFCA team since 2002, with Christoph Winkler stepping in as her deputy when required. They will act as a first point of contact for any gender equality issues and will support our organisational culture with their expertise and ideas surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion.
Our new organisation chart and the allocation of tasks can be found at the following link:
More information about our new Director General can be found here.