This online resource, drawn from the 2014 Benefits Report, has the objective of setting out particular means and messages for competition agencies when approaching governmental and legislative bodies. It tackles a variety of situations and dimensions, including advocating the principles and benefits of competition, raising awareness of the importance of competition and competition-friendly policies, communicating the need for legislative or institutional reform. It draws on various means of communication, formal and informal, direct and indirect, of communicating with government and legislators. It also includes case studies and examples from competition agencies around the world. This report is complemented by a set of messages and examples of communications by competition authorities in explaining the benefits of competition, and advocating the principles of competition.

For the purposes of these webpages, the Report has been split into four section, tips for explaining benefits (“why and how?”), broad themes, agency communication strategies and approaches to communicaiton, and case examples.

Tips and Case Studies

Why and how?

The Importance of government

It is imperative that competition agencies realise the significance of Government as a stakeholder and direct an appropriate portion of advocacy efforts at communicating with Government to ensure that competition authorities are able to influence policy outcomes in a way that realises the benefits of competition.

Adapting messages

Not all stakeholders are receptive to certain messages and means of communication. Competition authorities need to adapt their messages and approach to suit the specific stakeholder they are communicating with.

Selecting the most appropriate advocacy instruments

Certain advocacy instruments are better suited to communicating with Government – these messages and instruments should be clearly defined based on the circumstances of the particular jurisdiction. For example; it may be appropriate to communicate with the public through the media and website, whereas it is more effective to communicate with Government through one-on-one meetings. Where possible competition authorities need to employ advocacy instruments that best suit the stakeholder, as well as the sector at stake.

Frequency of contacts

The frequency of communication should match the significance of government as a stakeholder – frequent contact is imperative in developing a sound relationship.

Directing advocacy efforts

Competition authorities need to educate policymakers on not only the benefits of competition, but also when it is necessary to consult competition expertise in formulating regulatory frameworks or drafting legislation. This can be achieved through educational seminars and conferences that target specific government agencies and aim to establish a dialogue between Government and competition authorities.

Central message to convey to policymakers

It is necessary to convey the importance of competition and the role that competition agencies can play in Government achieving its goals. For example; competition authorities need to be able to convey the role that they can play in helping Government to achieve its public procurement goals.

Building relationships while preserving indepdence

For advocacy to be successful, it is important to be able to build strong and trusting relationships with government at all levels. It takes time to build the necessary trust between officials while preserving the independence of the agency, but good relationships and the building of trust between officials might be considered the cornerstones of successful advocacy.

Broad Themes

This section discusses messages a competition agency may find useful in advocating the principles and benefits of competition policy. It presents various arguments in favour of competition policy, including those most relevant to consumers, the public interest, industrial policy, economic recovery and poverty, as well as sustainable development.

Some of the themes and arguments further explored in this section of the chapter are listed below. Please note this list is non-exhaustive, and will be further developed.

Broad Themes

Communication Strategies

This section discusses messages a competition agency may use in its role as impartial competition expert in policy review. Government departments and competition agencies can complement each other in maximising competition as a driver for the efficient working of markets, boosting economic growth. Policy objectives pursued through laws and regulations can unnecessarily restrict competition in the marketplace. Competition agencies are well placed to advise government departments about the impact of these restrictions and how to achieve the goals aimed for with less restriction on competition.

They can be particularly helpful in three ways:

  1. Positive use of competition Policies which can be advanced by increased competition, such as public procurement;
  2. Limiting negative impact on competition Policy implementation may create certain restrictions of competition, such as those needed to ensure air traffic security. Agencies are well placed to help departments restrict markets only enough to achieve their desired goal;
  3. Advising on possible competition impacts in related areas Some policy regimes can generally be considered ‘competition neutral’, such as monetary policy. Here an agency can provide advice on unintended market impacts of otherwise benign policies.

The dialogue between competition authorities and regulatory authorities, Congress or Parliament is a key area of competition advocacy. Advocacy initiatives can be undertaken in order to influence the policy framework and its implementation in a competition-friendly way. For example, in some systems, agencies regularly provide impact assessments, opinions or advice on new legislation or regulation.

Case Studies

Case Studies: How Competition Agencies Influence Policymakers in Practice

The following case studies illustrate how certain competition authorities use different advocacy instruments to influence the decisions of policymakers across various sectors and within the constraints of different agency-Government relationships.  These examples also illustrate how competition benefits can facilitate the realisation of policy objectives such as economic growth, productivity and industrial policy.

Case Studies Examples