New agreement to enable more efficient monitoring of competition in the Nordic countries
A new agreement aims to increase the efficiency of cooperation between competition authorities in the Nordic countries. The forms of cooperation in question include notifications from one authority to another about pending investigations, correspondence between authorities and assistance in carrying out inspections of businesses and requesting information from them. The agreement will enter into force on 29 November 2018.
In practice, monitoring of competition has revealed illegal restrictions on competition used by businesses to distort healthy and well-functioning competition in several Nordic countries. There has already been an agreement in place concerning cooperation between competition authorities, but Finland has not been a part of it because the EU legislation was thought to enable sufficiently broad cooperation between the authorities.
The adequacy of cooperation based on EU policies in investigating restrictions on competition in several Nordic countries is, however, uncertain, as the EU policies enable cooperation only between EU Member States. Cooperation between EU Member States also depends on the fulfilment of the non-appreciable affectation of trade (NAAT) rule. The NAAT rule means that the practices targeted by the investigation measures must be such that they may affect trade between Member States. Cooperation in the area of merger control also falls outside the scope of the cooperation enabled by the EU policies.
The agreement now entering into force will allow competition authorities in the Nordic countries to engage in cooperation regardless of EU membership or the fulfilment of the NAAT rule. Enabling this cooperation will make it possible to investigate competition restrictions in place in several Nordic countries, thereby promoting the protection of healthy and well-functioning competition that benefits both businesses and consumers.
Senior Specialist Iiro Ihanamäki, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7217