From the enforcer: Competition and Consumer Authority

Finland: from the enforcer

Address: Lintulahdenkuja 2, PO Box 5, 00531 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 29 505 3000
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.kkv.fi

Contacts

Kirsi Leivo
Director General
Email: [email protected]

Timo Mattila
Director of Competition Division
Email: [email protected]

Maarit Taurula
Director, Enforcement 1
Email: [email protected]

Valtteri Virtanen
Director, Enforcement 2
Email: [email protected]

Sanna Syrjälä
Director, Enforcement 3
Email: [email protected]

Rainer Lindberg
Director, International Competition Affairs
Email: [email protected]

Arttu Juuti
Director, Supervision of Procurement and Competition Neutrality
Email: [email protected]

Tuulia Hakola-Uusitalo
Research Director, Advocacy and research
Tel: +358 29 505 3011
Email: [email protected]

Questions and answers

How long is the head of agency’s term of office?

The director general is appointed for five years.

When is he or she due for reappointment?

The director general was appointed in 2018 and the appointment of director general is for a period of five years.

Which posts within the organisation are political appointments?

None.

What is the agency’s annual budget?

The estimated budget of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) for 2020 is €17.5 million.

How many staff are employed by the agency?

In total, 215 people are employed by the FCCA, of whom 75 are employed by the Competition Division.

To whom does the head of the agency report?

The FCCA is an independent agency. It reports its activities to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. However, the Ministry is not able to intervene in the FCCA’s independent decision-making concerning competition enforcement.

Do any industry-specific regulators have competition powers?

The FCCA is the only authority competent to enforce the Competition Act in Finland. Some authorities, predominantly the Energy Authority and the Finnish Transport and Communications Authority, have certain obligations to promote competition as such, but the statutory basis for this obligation is other than the Competition Act.

Do politicians have any right to overrule or disregard the decisions of the authority?

No.

Does the law allow non-competition aims to be considered when taking decisions?

No.

Which body hears appeals against the agency’s decisions? Is there any form of judicial review beyond that mentioned above? If so, which body conducts this?

The Market Court hears the appeals against the agency’s decisions. The decisions of the Market Court can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger?

The FCCA has no powers to block a merger by itself, but the Market Court may prohibit a merger upon the proposal of the FCCA. The FCCA has proposed a prohibition of a merger only four times since the establishment of the merger control regime in 1998, including as the Finnish Competition Authority (FCA). The first proposal was made in 2000, the second in 2011, the third in 2013 and the fourth in 2019.

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger?

The FCA and FCCA assessed 1011 merger notifications between 1998 and 2019. In 33 of those cases, the FCA and FCCA cleared the merger with imposed conditions. In 2019, the FCCA examined 34 mergers; five were cleared with imposed conditions.

Has the authority conducted a Phase II investigation in any of its merger filings?

The FCCA receives 20 to 40 merger notifications per year. Between roughly four to nine cases each year result in Phase II proceedings.

Has the authority ever pursued a company based outside your jurisdiction for a cartel offence?

No.

Do you operate a leniency programme? Whom should potential applicants contact?

Yes, since 1 May 2004. Applicants should contact Antti Norkela or Mika Hermas from the Enforcement 1 and 2 Units.

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it?

In terms of competition law itself, no. However, it cannot be excluded that, in certain circumstances, bid-rigging may qualify as fraud, which is criminally sanctioned under the Criminal Code in Finland. To date, no case law to this effect exists.

Are there any plans to reform the competition law?

The Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment established a national Competition Act working group to assess the national implementation of the Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market (ECN+ Directive). The Government Bill amending the Competition Act was published in May 2020 and it has been on a statement during the summer. A finalized Government Bill amending the Competition Act is expected to be issued during the autumn 2020.

In addition, in June 2020 the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment issued a Government Bill to temporarily amend Section 26 of the Competition Act. The temporary amendment would extend the procession time for the in-depth investigation of mergers by 23 working days. The Bill prepares for the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension would apply to mergers notified to the FCCA after 2 July 2020 but before 1 November 2020.

When did the last review of the law occur?

The latest amendment of the Competition Act entered into force in December 2019. This was a minor technical amendment regarding Section 39, Exchange of Information Between Authorities. The previous larger review of the Competition Act was conducted by a national Competition Act working group established by the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The working group assessed many aspects (inter alia investigation tools, sanctions, processing deadlines, accounting separation) of the Competition Act. The Government Bill was issued and the Amendment entered into force in June 2019.

Do you have a separate economics team? If so please give details.

FCCA’s Competition division has a dedicated chief economist and economic analysis team whom provide competition enforcement case teams economic analysis and methodological support. It also serves a check-and-balance function by providing its independent opinion on all major competition cases. Additionally The FCCA has established a separate division for Advocacy and Research. In general terms, the Division is designed to be entrusted with carrying out or commissioning research and investigations with theoretical or empirical interest for the authority, among other things

Has the authority conducted a dawn raid?

Yes.

Has the authority imposed penalties on officers or directors of companies for offences committed by the company?

No.

What are the pre-merger notification thresholds, if any, for the buyer and seller involved in a merger?

A concentration shall be notified to the FCCA if the combined turnover of the parties exceeds €350 million and the turnover of at least two of the parties resulting from Finland exceeds €20 million for both.

Are there any restrictions on minority investments?

The Finnish merger control regime does not cover non- controlling minority shareholdings. However, minority investments that confer control on the buyer have to be notified if the turnover thresholds are exceeded.

What discounts are available to companies that cooperate with cartel investigations?

The requirements for immunity correspond closely with types 1(a) and 1(b) of the ECN Model Leniency Programme. Full immunity from fines shall be granted to the first undertaking to reveal a cartel and the applicant’s participation in it. The amount of a reduction from the penalty payment depends on the order of application, that the information provided in the application is of significance in establishing the restriction of competition or its full content and nature, and that the authority has not already obtained the same information at the time of the application. The range of available reductions is:

  • 30 to 50 per cent if the undertaking is the first one to submit the information;
  • 20 to 30 per cent if the undertaking is the second one to submit the information; and
  • 20 per cent at most for other undertakings.

Does the authority conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity? If not, is there another authority in the country that does?

No, cartel conduct is not criminalised under the Competition Act. However, it cannot be excluded that, in certain circumstances, bid-rigging may qualify as fraud, which is criminally sanctioned under the Criminal Code in Finland. In such a case, the investigation would be carried out by the police, and the case prosecuted by the public prosecutor.


Finland: from the enforcer's competition economists

Address: Lintulahdenkuja 2, PO Box 5, 00531 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 29 505 3000
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.kkv.fi

Contacts

Kirsi Leivo
Director General
Email: [email protected]

Timo Mattila
Director of Competition Division
Email: [email protected]

Maarit Taurula
Director, Enforcement 1
Email: [email protected]

Valtteri Virtanen
Director, Enforcement 2
Email: [email protected]

Sanna Syrjälä
Director, Enforcement 3
Email: [email protected]

Rainer Lindberg
Director, International Competition Affairs
Email: [email protected]

Arttu Juuti
Director, Supervision of Procurement and Competition Neutrality
Email: [email protected]

Tuulia Hakola-Uusitalo
Research Director, Advocacy and research
Tel: +358 29 505 3011
Email: [email protected]

Questions and answers

How long is the head of agency’s term of office?

The director general is appointed for five years.

When is he or she due for reappointment?

The director general was appointed in 2018 and the appointment of director general is for a period of five years.

Which posts within the organisation are political appointments?

None.

What is the agency’s annual budget?

The estimated budget of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) for 2020 is €17.5 million.

How many staff are employed by the agency?

In total, 215 people are employed by the FCCA, of whom 75 are employed by the Competition Division.

To whom does the head of the agency report?

The FCCA is an independent agency. It reports its activities to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. However, the Ministry is not able to intervene in the FCCA’s independent decision-making concerning competition enforcement.

Do any industry-specific regulators have competition powers?

The FCCA is the only authority competent to enforce the Competition Act in Finland. Some authorities, predominantly the Energy Authority and the Finnish Transport and Communications Authority, have certain obligations to promote competition as such, but the statutory basis for this obligation is other than the Competition Act.

Do politicians have any right to overrule or disregard the decisions of the authority?

No.

Does the law allow non-competition aims to be considered when taking decisions?

No.

Which body hears appeals against the agency’s decisions? Is there any form of judicial review beyond that mentioned above? If so, which body conducts this?

The Market Court hears the appeals against the agency’s decisions. The decisions of the Market Court can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger?

The FCCA has no powers to block a merger by itself, but the Market Court may prohibit a merger upon the proposal of the FCCA. The FCCA has proposed a prohibition of a merger only four times since the establishment of the merger control regime in 1998, including as the Finnish Competition Authority (FCA). The first proposal was made in 2000, the second in 2011, the third in 2013 and the fourth in 2019.

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger?

The FCA and FCCA assessed 1011 merger notifications between 1998 and 2019. In 33 of those cases, the FCA and FCCA cleared the merger with imposed conditions. In 2019, the FCCA examined 34 mergers; five were cleared with imposed conditions.

Has the authority conducted a Phase II investigation in any of its merger filings?

The FCCA receives 20 to 40 merger notifications per year. Between roughly four to nine cases each year result in Phase II proceedings.

Has the authority ever pursued a company based outside your jurisdiction for a cartel offence?

No.

Do you operate a leniency programme? Whom should potential applicants contact?

Yes, since 1 May 2004. Applicants should contact Antti Norkela or Mika Hermas from the Enforcement 1 and 2 Units.

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it?

In terms of competition law itself, no. However, it cannot be excluded that, in certain circumstances, bid-rigging may qualify as fraud, which is criminally sanctioned under the Criminal Code in Finland. To date, no case law to this effect exists.

Are there any plans to reform the competition law?

The Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment established a national Competition Act working group to assess the national implementation of the Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 to empower the competition authorities of the member states to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market (ECN+ Directive). The government bill amending the Competition Act was published in May 2020 and it has been on a statement during the summer. A finalised government bill amending the Competition Act is expected to be issued during the autumn 2020.

In addition, in June 2020, the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment issued a government bill to temporarily amend section 26 of the Competition Act. The temporary amendment would extend the procession time for the in-depth investigation of mergers by 23 working days. The bill prepares for the continuation of the covid-19 pandemic. The extension would apply to mergers notified to the FCCA after 2 July 2020 but before 1 November 2020.

When did the last review of the law occur?

The latest amendment of the Competition Act entered into force in December 2019. This was a minor technical amendment regarding section 39, Exchange of Information Between Authorities. The previous larger review of the Competition Act was conducted by a national Competition Act working group established by the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The working group assessed many aspects (inter alia, investigation tools, sanctions, processing deadlines, accounting separation) of the Competition Act. The Government Bill was issued and the Amendment entered into force in June 2019.

Do you have a separate economics team? If so please give details.

FCCA’s Competition division has a dedicated chief economist and economic analysis team whom provide competition enforcement case teams economic analysis and methodological support. It also serves a check-and-balance function by providing its independent opinion on all major competition cases. Additionally The FCCA has established a separate division for Advocacy and Research. In general terms, the Division is designed to be entrusted with carrying out or commissioning research and investigations with theoretical or empirical interest for the authority, among other things

Has the authority conducted a dawn raid?

Yes.

Has the authority imposed penalties on officers or directors of companies for offences committed by the company?

No.

What are the pre-merger notification thresholds, if any, for the buyer and seller involved in a merger?

A concentration shall be notified to the FCCA if the combined turnover of the parties exceeds €350 million and the turnover of at least two of the parties resulting from Finland exceeds €20 million for both.

Are there any restrictions on minority investments?

The Finnish merger control regime does not cover non- controlling minority shareholdings. However, minority investments that confer control on the buyer have to be notified if the turnover thresholds are exceeded.

What discounts are available to companies that cooperate with cartel investigations?

The requirements for immunity correspond closely with types 1(a) and 1(b) of the ECN Model Leniency Programme. Full immunity from fines shall be granted to the first undertaking to reveal a cartel and the applicant’s participation in it. The amount of a reduction from the penalty payment depends on the order of application, that the information provided in the application is of significance in establishing the restriction of competition or its full content and nature, and that the authority has not already obtained the same information at the time of the application. The range of available reductions is:

  • 30 to 50 per cent if the undertaking is the first one to submit the information;
  • 20 to 30 per cent if the undertaking is the second one to submit the information; and
  • 20 per cent at most for other undertakings.

Does the authority conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity? If not, is there another authority in the country that does?

No, cartel conduct is not criminalised under the Competition Act. However, it cannot be excluded that, in certain circumstances, bid-rigging may qualify as fraud, which is criminally sanctioned under the Criminal Code in Finland. In such a case, the investigation would be carried out by the police, and the case prosecuted by the public prosecutor.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger?

The FCCA has no powers to block a merger by itself, but the Market Court may prohibit a merger upon the proposal of the FCCA. The FCCA has proposed a prohibition of a merger only four times since the establishment of the merger control regime in 1998, including as the Finnish Competition Authority (FCA). The first proposal was made in 2000, the second in 2011, the third in 2013 and the fourth in 2019. The proposal made by the FCCA in 2019 led to the first decision by the Market Court to block a merger.

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger?

The FCA and FCCA assessed 341 mergers between 2010 and 2020. In 20 of those cases, the FCA and FCCA cleared the merger with imposed conditions. In 2019, the FCCA examined 34 mergers; four were cleared with imposed conditions.

Has the authority conducted a Phase II investigation in any of its merger filings?

The FCCA receives around 30 merger notifications per year. Between roughly two to eight cases each year result in Phase II proceedings.

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