Enforcement of competition law to become more effective
The Government submitted a proposal to amend the Competition Act on 5 November 2020. The amendments are mainly based on a Directive that will enhance and harmonise the enforcement of the EU’s competition rules within the territory of the Union. The implementation of the Directive will extend the powers of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority.
The amendments to be made based on the Directive will strengthen the powers of investigation, decision-making and sanctions for restricting competition. This is a significant change to EU and national competition law.
The key amendments to the Competition Act based on the EU Directive include:
- The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority could propose and a court could impose a penalty payment on an undertaking not only for restriction of competition but also for breaches of procedural rules and non-compliance with certain decisions.
- In order to end restriction of competition, structural remedies could also be imposed under strict conditions in the future. Structural remedies could include, for example, the divestment of a business unit or a stake in the competitor’s share capital.
- When assessing the amount of penalty payments imposed on associations of undertakings, the turnover of the members of the association would also be taken into account under certain conditions. In addition, members of an association of undertakings could be liable to pay the penalty imposed on the association if the association was unable to pay it and if certain other conditions were met.
- Cooperation between the EU’s national competition authorities will improve.
In addition, the Competition Act will be amended on the basis of national needs. The amendment would help undertakings to assess in advance the amount of penalty payment that they or an association of undertakings could be subject to for restricting competition.
The legal protection of undertakings has been acknowledged by, among other things, increasing the consultation of interested parties before decision-making. The Act also provides for the right of appeal and the enforcement of penalty payments only after the final decision.
The Government proposes that the amended Act will enter into force on 4 February 2021, as the Directive requires.
Effective enforcement of competition will benefit companies and consumers
The purpose of the Directive is to improve the enforcement powers of the competition authorities in the Member States and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market. The implementation of the Directive will make the enforcement of competition rules more efficient and increase their preventive effect.
The aim of the competition rules is to ensure effective competition between companies. Effective competition also benefits consumers and customer companies by offering alternatives, keeping price levels under control and encouraging the creation of innovative and high-quality products and services.
Iiro Ihanamäki, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 217
Virve Haapajärvi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 027