Etusivu \ FCCA 2017 \ Director General’s Review

Director General’s Review of 2017

KKV Jokinen JuhaniOur Yearbook 2017 describes what we have done and achieved in return for the approximately EUR 10.6 million invested by taxpayers, through the state budget, in the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) to secure financial competition and consumer protection. Not all of our work is visible in FCCA decisions, proposals, or guidelines, the outcomes or impact of which we could directly count as our own achievements. However, we consider it of vital importance that we are involved in the preparation of legislation, for example. This helps other institutions and aims to ensure that freedom of trade and consumer protection are taken into consideration in all public decision making.

Our Yearbook 2017 describes what we have done and achieved in return for the approximately EUR 10.6 million invested by taxpayers, through the state budget, in the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) to secure financial competition and consumer protection. Not all of our work is visible in FCCA decisions, proposals, or guidelines, the outcomes or impact of which we could directly count as our own achievements. However, we consider it of vital importance that we are involved in the preparation of legislation, for example. This helps other institutions and aims to ensure that freedom of trade and consumer protection are taken into consideration in all public decision-making.

The FCCA has been assigned a considerable amount of new duties in recent years. The past year of operation also saw the transfer of some duties that will have a considerable impact on the activities of the FCCA. Legal advice for consumers will be transferred from the Local Register Offices to the FCCA as of the beginning of 2019. In addition, consumer and competition administration tasks will be transferred from the state regional administration to the FCCA as of the beginning of 2020.  The reformed Act on Public Contracts entered into effect at the beginning of 2017, imposing new supervision tasks on the FCCA. The first enforcement decisions have already been made. They have demonstrated that there was a clear need for establishing supervision tasks, even if the procurement procedure as such is a rather bureaucratic process. The procedures used to direct some EUR 20 billion of public funds to suppliers of goods and services are no trivial matter.

The working group of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy has prepared a proposal for a partial reform of the Competition Act. We have been involved in this work. The proposal comprises three key goals: strengthening competitive neutrality, enhancing the effectiveness of electronic inspections, and improving the preconditions for information sharing between authorities. The Competition Act will in future be complemented by the Directive to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers, which is currently being processed in the European Parliament. Both overall reforms are in order. The investigation procedure and sanctions related to the prohibition of competition restriction, when they are the same in national and EU legislation, should not at least materially depend on whether the matter is being investigated by the FCCA, the competition authority of another Member State, or the Commission, nor should new applications become platforms that would allow restrictive practices to be carried out in the blind spots of supervision.

The freedom of choice bill related to the social welfare and health care reform was finalised in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health after being circulated for comments. The proposal entails the creation of competition between public and private service providers in certain services and would also introduce tasks for the FCCA. These would concern securing competitive neutrality between public and private providers of direct choice services as well as the supervision of consumer protection, at least in the marketing of health care services.

The action programme to combat the black economy and the related snapshot function have been launched as part of the strategy for combating the black economy and financial crime in accordance with the government resolution. Up-to-date information on the black economy and financial crime will be available on the new website maintained by the authorities: www.harmaa-talous-rikollisuus.fi, which will be launched in the spring of 2018. From the FCCA’s perspective, combating the black economy and financial crime involves practical measures and collaboration between authorities, which will allow us to better safeguard equal operating conditions, reveal cartels, protect competition and public funds in procurement, as well as to impede the operation of online scams and subscription traps aimed at consumers.

 

Director General
Juhani Jokinen