Government evening session discussed ways to promote healthy competition
The government evening session met on Wednesday 19 September to discuss a programme for promoting healthy competition. The aim of the programme is to increase competition in the domestic market. The added value of the targeted sectors is approximately EUR 50 billion, which equals almost one fourth of Finland's GDP.
The programme will include measures with which to increase competition in the consumer goods retail sector, safeguard a level playing field for private and public sector businesses and reduce legislative obstacles for competition in various fields. The programme does not, however, cover all sectors in which the dismantling of structural barriers to competition could be justified.
Preparatory work on the programme measures will continue in the ministries.
Competition in the consumer goods retail sector will be increased
According to the programme, a new section on the consumer goods retail sector will be added to the Competition Act. According to the new section, an operator in the Finnish consumer goods retail sector holds a dominant market position if its market share exceeds 30 %.
With the current market shares, this would mean that the K and S Groups would need to take into consideration the provision preventing the misuse of dominant market position in their activities. The provision does not aim to restrict individual retailers' possibilities to buy products from local producers.
With the amendment, the Competition Authority could better monitor the consumer goods retail sector. The associated government proposal will be prepared at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and is to be submitted to Parliament in autumn 2012.
Monitoring of public-sector business activities will be intensified
According to the programme, the powers of the Competition Authority to monitor public-sector business activities will be extended. The aim is to safeguard neutrality of competition, in other words, to provide a level playing field for private and public-sector businesses.
Monitoring would be targeted on the public-sector provision of goods and services when carried out as business activities. The Competition Authority should aim to safeguard competition neutrality primarily through negotiations. Should this prove unsuccessful, the Competition Authority could prohibit the operators from carrying out their activities or impose obligations with which to guarantee equitable markets.
The aim is to submit the government proposal for amending the Competition Act, currently under preparation at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, by the end of 2012.
Barriers to free competition will be assessed in various sectors
The programme comprises several measures to eliminate legislative obstacles and restrictions to competition. Such measures are targeted on sectors such as land use planning and construction, the third sector and the waste, pharmaceutical and digital markets.
The Ministry of the Environment is to draft an action plan on increasing competition in the construction sector to improve land use planning, increase the provision of available plots and develop the role of Regional Councils in land use planning. The Ministry will also amend the Land Use and Building Act in a way that competition and industrial policies are better taken into account in land use planning.
Rules concerning the market for third sector providers will be made clearer by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The development of the third sector needs to be provided with equal opportunities to public services and private profit-seeking service provision. The need to renew the policies concerning the allocation of the Finnish Slot Machine Association's support will also be assessed with a view to ensuring third sector viability.
The Ministry of the Environment will compile a review on the practices concerning the application of the Waste Act which has led to tensions between private and municipal waste management service providers. A complaint has been lodged with the European Commission for practices relating to the application of the Waste Act.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will continue to develop the pharmacy operations to secure a cost-efficient pharmaceutical service system in Finland. The Ministry will concentrate on issues such as the process of granting pharmacy licences, the density of the pharmacy network, the pharmacy fee and the pharmaceutical pricing scheme. In Finland, the pharmacy sector is significantly more regulated than in the other Nordic countries.
The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy will examine issues related to the digital market. The measures will be targeted on reforming the private copyright levy system and address the position of copyright organisations. The purpose is to foster creative work and a more efficient use of copyright protected material without jeopardising the position of copyright holders.
The Government will regularly assess the programme and, when necessary, decide on further measures. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy will report on the project’s progress to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy every three months.
The programme is available at the
website of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy at
State Secretary Janne
Metsämäki, tel. +358 29 504 8014
Director General Juhani Jokinen, programme to promote healthy competition, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 50 395 2800
Director General Raimo Luoma, Ministry of Employment
and the Economy, tel. +358 50 413 5500