EU competition law enforcement more effective – Public consultation on proposed Competition Act amendments begins
The Finnish government's draft bill, which is mainly aimed at making those amendments to the national Competition Act that are required by the EU directive, will be circulating for public consultation 14.5–24.6.2020. Amendments to the Competition Act based on the Directive would extend the powers of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority.
On 11.12.2018, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a directive, the implementation of which will make more effective and harmonize the enforcement of the EU’s competition rules within the territory of the Union. The Directive sets the minimum levels to the investigative, enforcement and sanctioning powers of the Member States’ competition authorities.
Finland's national competition law is based on the national Competition Act, and the authority applying the act is the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland set up a working group to prepare the national implementation of the EU directive.
The working group’s report, slightly supplemented, is now being circulated for public consultation as the government’s draft bill. Among the amendments proposed to be implemented in Finland’s Competition Act based on the directive are the following:
- The powers of the Competition and Consumer Authority and of the courts to propose and impose penalty payments and periodic penalty payments would be extended. In future, in addition to competition restrictions, penalty payments could also be imposed for infringements of certain procedural provisions and non-compliance with certain decisions.
- The assessment of the amount of the penalty payments for associations of undertakings would change. The members of associations of undertakings could, with certain conditions being fulfilled, be required to pay the penalty payment imposed on their association of undertakings were the association of undertakings unable to pay it.
- Cooperation between the EU’s national competition authorities would be further intensified. The rules of the Directive will enable cross border notification and enforcement of fines and periodic penalty payments, and for inspections to be carried out at the request of another Member State.
In addition, the national Competition Act would be amended in such a way that the assessment of penalty payments would become more predictable.
These amendments would come into force on 4.2.2021, by which time the Directive must be embodied in each EU Member State’s national legislation.
Proposal to amend the merger control time limits due to the Corona pandemic
An amendment to the Competition Act that is not related to the implementation of the EU Directive is also being prepared. The processing time limit for merger control in the second phase of the Competition Act would be temporarily extended by about a month. The purpose of the amendment is to allow the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority to apply a longer processing time for it to be able to properly and in a timely manner to process business mergers requiring further investigations, also noting the exceptional circumstances caused by the Corona pandemic.
Iiro Ihanamäki, senior specialist, Ministry of Employment and the Economy of Finland, ph. +358 295 047 217
Virve Haapajärvi, government advisor, Ministry of Employment and the Economy of Finland, ph. 0295 047 027