Finland: Competition Act amendments aimed at improving enforcement enter into force on 24 June

NordenBladet — The amendments to the Competition Act are based mainly on the EU Directive. It strengthens and harmonises the abilities of the competition authorities in the Member States to implement EU competition rules. The aim is to ensure effective competition between undertakings in the EU’s internal market. In Finland, the amendments extend the powers of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority concerning restrictions of competition.

On 17 June 2021, the Government discussed parliamentary reply to the government proposal submitted to Parliament on 5 November 2020. The Act is scheduled to enter into force on 24 June 2021 after the President of the Republic has approved it.

Act to give Competition and Consumer Authority more powers to investigate and propose sanctions for restricting competition
The key amendments to the Competition Act based on the EU Directive include:The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority can propose and a court can 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, the Authority could also impose structural remedies under strict conditions. Structural remedies 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 will also be taken into account under certain conditions. In addition, members of an association of undertakings may be liable to pay the penalty imposed on the association if the association is unable to pay it and if certain other conditions are met.

Cooperation between the EU’s national competition authorities will improve.  Among other things, the new rules will enable EU Member States to notify and enforce cross-border decisions on fines and conditional fines and to carry out inspections at the request of another Member State.  The rules on exemptions from penalty payments and on reduced penalty payments (so-called leniency) will be updated so that the system will work in a uniform and efficient manner across the EU.

In addition to the amendments required by the Directive, the Act will amend provisions for assessing the amount of penalty payments. The amendments will 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. This amendment is based on an identified need in Finland, not on the EU directive.

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.

 


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