The Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs share the responsibility for measures aimed at solving trade barriers encountered by enterprises. The units concerned of the Ministries receive notifications from enterprises and other organisations concerning barriers to trade occurred in Finland, in the other EU Member States or in the third countries and cooperate with authorities, interest groups of enterprises, the European Commission and the EU Members States in order to facilitate the market access of enterprises. Enterprises can submit free-form notifications of trade barriers to the Ministries.
Each problem notified to us will undergo an in-depth analysis. We determine the proper way of action in each trade barrier case depending on the nature of the problem and wishes of the notifier. Sometimes a problem may have arisen from a misunderstanding, and it is enough to send the correct information to the notifier. In some cases contacting the competent authority or bringing the matter up in connection with various meetings or negotiations may provide a satisfactory solution to the problem. There are many alternative courses of action, and the most appropriate solution for each situation is tailored on a case-by-case basis.
What can be done to remove trade barriers?
Trade barriers on the internal market
A network of SOLVIT Co-ordination Centres has been set up in EU Member States to help citizens and businesses when they run into a problem resulting from possible misapplication of Internal Market rules by public administrations in another Member State. In Finland the SOLVIT Co-ordination Center is the Market Access Unit of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
In case a violation of internal market right occurs, an effort is made to solve the matter unofficially through the SOLVIT Co-ordination Centres of the Member States concerned and a direct negotiating channel will be set up with the competent authorities. If no solution is achieved in this way, the case can be subjected to the European Commission.
Companies and citizens have also many other means of looking for solutions for cases in which their internal market rights have been violated. More information on these issues and on the internal market contact point network is available on the Internet website of the EU Programme "Direct Line to Europe" and of the SOLVIT network.
Ministry of Employment and the Economy
P.O. Box 32, FI-00023 GOVERNMENT
Tel. +358 29 506 4971
Trade barriers outside the EU
When a trade barrier exists on a market outside the EU, there are several operational alternatives. In general, the first thing to do when solving a case is to establish a negotiating contact directly to the competent authorities of the country concerned. Various bilateral negotiations and visits of civil servants and ministers are also opportunities to take avail of when striving for a solution, whenever possible.
The varied range of cooperation and negotiation mechanisms of the EU can also be utilised in addition to national measures. When individual trade barrier cases are known to the Commission, they can be taken up for discussion at the meetings between the EU and the country concerned. Moreover, Community's numerous trade and cooperation agreements and their consultation mechanisms, as well as negotiations on new agreements, provide an excellent forum for solving trade-related problems. The EC Trade Barriers Regulation, for its part, guarantees that companies involved receive in-depth investigations of their notified trade barrier cases.
If the case involves clear violations of obligations of the WTO (World Trade Organisation), the EU may, as appropriate, apply the WTO's negotiation and dispute settlement mechanisms. Accession of new members to the WTO and negotiations on the membership conditions are another convenient forum to clarify practices obstructing trade.
Further information on trade barriers faced by European companies outside the EU can be obtained from the market access database maintained by the European Commission.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department for External Economic Relations, Unit for Market Access
P.O. Box 176, FI-00161 HELSINKI
Tel. +358 9 1605 5507/5537, fax +358 9 1605 5599
e-mail: tradebarrier (at) formin.fi