The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has outlined that it has 180 complaints in the agri sector.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation meeting yesterday, Tuesday, October 1, Fergal O’Leary from the CCPC said: “Probably one of the most important parts of our market surveillance is the complaints that we get.”

Addressing concerns about the CCPC’s effectiveness, O’Leary said: “From my reading of the commentary in relation to the beef crisis over the last couple of months, I would be very confused myself as to what our role was.”

Continuing, he explained the CCPS is “there to help people to help themselves to be compliant.”

Yesterday’s meeting focused on ‘engagement on competition law relating to trade associations’ and a number of questions were put to the CCPC on the Irish meat processing industry.

“We do extensive market surveillance across every market sector in the economy.”

Continuing, he said: “When we see an issue that we believe is falling into the area that the parties are in danger of breaching consumer law, our approach is: we contact them; we tell them that we are in danger; we advise them generally in terms of what they can and can’t do; and we give them an opportunity to come into compliance.

It’s only after that when we move into the enforcement space.

However, he noted that the CCPC “would like more powers” and added that when the new European Competition Network (ECN) directive comes into force – in the next 18 months – the authority will be much more efficient.