Proposal: Finnish Competition Authority and Consumer Agency should merge at the outset of the new year
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy proposes that the Finnish Competition Authority and the Finnish Consumer Agency should be merged into one joint agency which will begin operations on 1 January 2013.
As part of the resolution, organizational alternatives related to the National Consumer Research Centre have also been determined. In this connection, it has been decided that the matter be resolved in the assessments completed on the basis of the conclusions arrived at in the Council of State’s sector research report. The questions related to the independent status of the research will also be noted in these assessments.
“The objective behind merging the Finnish Competition Authority and the Consumer Agency is to strengthen and consolidate the social significance of competition- as well as consumer-related matters, in addition to increasing the effectiveness of the administration. According to the government programme, the starting point is that business enterprises of various sizes will have equal competitive circumstances and that the markets will function in compliance with consumers’ benefits,” Lauri Ihalainen, Minister of Labour explains.
The legislated duties of the officials concerned would not be changed as a result of merger. This also concerns the rather independent powers of the Consumer Ombudsman currently functioning at the Finnish Consumer Agency. The operations of the Consumer Ombudsman will switch to the new authority. Those employed by the Competition Authority and the Consumer Agency will transfer to the new agency as 'old' employees. The principles associated with good human resources-based policies will be observed.
The merger report was part of the guidelines of the State’s consumer policy programme still being completed in May.
“The aim of the government is to ratify the role of the consumer movement in consumer policy. By the end of March 2013, the cooperation modes of the Consumer Administration and consumer movement will be assessed as well as the division of labour separate from the official tasks," Minister Ihalainen relates.
As support for the merger report, statements were requested from interest groups respective to the Finnish Competition Authority, the Finnish Consumer Agency and the National Consumer Research Centre. In most of the statements, the merger of the Competition Authority and the Consumer Agency was regarded as an appropriate solution. Combining the National Consumer Research Centre within the new supervisory authority was considered problematic.
The merger report will subsequently be handled by the administration and ministerial working group for regional development. The government proposal on the new authority will be presented as the Budget Act in September. In the same connection, a Council of State statute concerning the new authority is being prepared.
The background memorandum and summary of the statements (in Finnish) on the merger can be read on the Ministry of Employment and the Economy website as appendices to the announcement.
For more information, contact:
Director-General Raimo Luoma, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 (0)10 606 3621