Working group proposes changes to the Competition Act
The working group on reforming the Competition Act submitted its report on 14 March 2017. Its assignment was to examine the Competition Act from the perspectives of competition control and economic operators’ legal protection. The working group concluded that the Competition Act should be amended with regard to inspections, sanctions and information exchange between the authorities, among others.
The working group proposes that electronic inspections could be continued after site visits in the premises of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) and that the inspection could include even mobile devices. It also proposes specifications to the rules of procedure associated with FCCA’s assessment of documents containing confidential correspondence with an outside legal consultant which the operator is not obligated to deliver to FCCA.
The working group proposes that effective penalty payments could be imposed on trade associations for anti-competitive arrangements. The maximum amount of the penalty would depend on the turnover of the association of undertakings and some of its member companies. The working group also proposes a penalty payment for violations of the rules of procedure in the Competition Act, such as the obligation to deliver information. It proposes the introduction of structural remedies as a new tool in the Competition Act. These remedies could be used only when strict requirements are met. As one option for enforcing more efficient control of competition neutrality, the working group proposes that operators pursuing both for-profit activities and other activities should separate these in their accounts.
The working group did not give proposals on all the issues discussed, including prohibition to pursue a business and sanctions for non-compliance with commitment decisions.
The working group was also assigned to evaluate how the Competition Act could promote the profitability of Finnish food production. It discussed the issue already in its interim report published on 2 May 2016 where it concluded that there are no effective tools to promote this goal by means of the Competition Act.
The working group was chaired by Director General Pekka Timonen from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The group members represented the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, Confederation of Finnish Industries, Federation of Finnish Enterprises, Finnish Bar Association and Ministry of Justice. The group had permanent experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, different parts of the food production chain and two courts of law.
The report includes statements and dissenting opinions. It will be circulated for comments until 15 May 2017.
Virve Haapajärvi, Government Counsellor, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 505 7027