TECoL was conceived in consequence of the more or less clear idea that there is a gap between the institutions and the civil society in opposing the illegal cartel functioning. Although the antitrust institutions of the leading countries are largely accepting the importance of “third parties” – individuals and non-governmental organizations, participating in the anti-cartel activities, the role of the individuals is limited to informants (in special occasions to official complainants) and the role of the non-government organizations, excluding very few who are given super –complainants status, is virtually nonexistent . We, however, believe that if a proper Tool is developed it would facilitate the presence of the civil society in a much more active and adequate role than that of an occasional informant.
A successful Tool could start filling gradually and systematically the serious gap generated by the limited role given to the civil society that in our opinion has become inadequate:
First – it could amplify and diversify the performance of the individual as an informant. In the classical scheme the informant usually is an employee who came into possession of inside information revealing practices that infringe the competition law. The group of potential informants becomes much larger with a reliable Tool – SME Owners, consumers, specialists in the relevant market, can have, find, combine and organize information that without being inside or revealing can produce signals that will be a valuable background for serious actions against possible cartels.
Second – with a Tool that can prove (or reject) the insights of an individual or organization regarding a possible cartel. The entities of the civil society can play significantly more important and relevant role in the whole process of anti-cartel activities than just informing or being informed. An active interaction between the institutions and the public at large is something that we consider equally important for both sides.
Third – the interaction between the two major constituents of the civil society, the individuals and the organizations, will be much more dynamic, reliable, regulated and fruitful if there exists a Tool that can bring the “cartel” insights to a considerably higher level of reliability and objectivity. Individuals can address to organizations and insist on reaction to their signals, organizations can have a reliable filter to separate serious and pointed information from frivolous and ill-meant one, the organizations can make their own investigation to prove (or reject) an individual signal, etc.
Fourth – the institutions can use a Tool either as a requirement for a well-grounded signal or as a mean to check the eventual reliability of certain signals.
The important thing is that these possibilities are not born of somebody’s creative imagination but are consequences of necessities logically following the process of development of both anti-cartel activities and of civil society itself.
How should a successful Tool look like in order to facilitate the active participation of the public at large in the total anti-cartel activity?
First – it should be practically available to everybody in Europe.
Second – it should treat its User as the real author of the market-testing process i.e. to explain clearly and explicitly why this information is requested, what the combination of this question does and what this indicator means, etc. It is the User that is supposed to decide how to proceed basing his/her actions on the results obtained from the procedures of the Tool.
Third – it should be designed to serve its Users. The information required should be accessible, there should be clear definitions of the information that can be obtained from objective sources (mainly statistics) and the one that the User can have acquired during his/her private experience and history in the industry/market.
Fourth – it should be a reliable meaning to be based on scientific models and adapted for the profile of its Users.
Fifth – should be easy to operate with.
We have developed TECoL as an Internet based software. Its scientific base is the Coordinated Failure Model developed by Christian Lorenz but some of its indicators are seriously reworked in order to meet the parameters of our Users – access to statistical data, eventual serious background of experience and “learning- by-doing”, etc. We have supplied large variety of hints and video guides to orientate our User in the different types and different sources of information. The diagnosing is performed by comparing the theoretical graphics of normal competitive market and the one that the computer draws based on the information supplied by the User for each indicator. The User is given the opportunity to compare the tested market with similar markets in other countries, with similar segments within the national market,etc. in order to spot indiscretions in the investigated market’s behaviour.
In our opinion with TECoL the whole system – from the public at large to the Law Enforcing Authorities now has an instrument that is quite innovative and also well-founded in the logic of the development of both anti-cartel activities and civil society. Tecol can activate and substantially energize the interaction between the institutions and the public at large in the field of opposing illegal cartel activities.
To see the full explanation of TECoL: TECoL_Roadmap.doc