International cooperation is needed for applying competition law and intervening in restrictions on competition. The FCCA currently participates in approximately 40 different working groups. In addition to opportunities to influence, international cooperation also entails obligations.
The key international stakeholders of the FCCA are the European Commission and the competition authorities of other EU Member States, the OECD Competition Committee, the Nordic competition authorities, and the International Competition Network (ICN).
In addition, the FCCA is participates in the activities of the cooperation network of the European Competition Authorities (ECA), which particularly focuses on merger control. The ECA network includes the competition authorities of the European Economic Area (EEA), the European Commission, the competition authorities of the EFTA countries and the EFTA Surveillance Authority.
The FCCA and its predecessor the Finnish Competition Authority have participated in an action plan of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The FCCA is responsible for the implementation of the European Union competition law in Finland. The authority is part of the European Competition Network (ECN), which aims to ensure the effective and uniform application of EU competition law in the internal market.
National competition authorities apply the EU competition rules in situations where a restriction on competition significantly affects or may affect trade between Member States. Cooperation brings rights, but also obligations to the FCCA. Above all, cooperation strengthens competition.
Cooperation in case handling
The EU Member States shall inform each other of any suspected restrictions on competition to which Articles 101 or 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) shall be applied. The notification shall be made either prior to commencing the first formal investigative procedure or immediately thereafter.
In addition, the members have a duty to inform the Commission of certain decisions involving competition infringements at least 30 days prior to the issuing of said decision. The purpose of the notification procedure is to ensure that competition restrictions that affect or may affect trade between Member States are addressed as effectively as possible and that the measures cover all markets subject to the restriction on competition within the EU.
When necessary, the EU Member States may coordinate among themselves which authority is the best placed to deal with a case at hand. The FCCA may therefore also receive a case, initially initiated either by the Commission or by another Member State. The EU Member States also provide each other help with investigations, for example by providing each other with the information necessary for the investigation or by carrying out inspections at the premises of undertakings. The FCCA may also carry out inspections in Finland at the request of other EU Member States and receive material not available in Finland from the Member States.
Exchange of experiences on application
EU competition authorities share experiences on the application of competition law through requests for information (RFI). The FCCA receives approximately 80–100 requests from other competition authorities in the network each year. The requests focus, among other things, on the FCCA’s application practice in a specific matter or on common observations on the development of a certain sector. The purpose of the requests for information is to promote uniform application practices.
EU Member States meet regularly at the ECN Plenary as well as in different working groups such as the ECN Working Group on Cooperation Issues and Due Process (CIDP) and the sector specific working groups. Sector specific working groups include food, energy, transport, pharmaceuticals, banking, telecommunications, and environmental working groups. In addition, the Directors-General of the competition authorities of the Member States meet annually. The EU Member States also foster increased consistency, convergence, and cooperation in the Merger Working Group.
Other EU matters
The FCCA participates in the development of EU competition law together with the Commission and other Member States. The agency also participates in the processing of individual competition restrictions and merger cases in hearings and meetings of the Advisory Committee. Additionally, the FCCA assists the Ministry for Foreign Affairs with cases concerning competition law in the EU courts.
More information about ECN
Regulations and other legislation
The FCCA represents Finland in the OECD Competition Committee. The OECD cooperation is useful as the 38 member states have a common basis in the application of competition law in many issues, and the discussion and sharing of experiences on various themes promote the effective application of competition law.
The OECD Competition Committee has two working groups: WP2 specialises in competition policy and regulation, and WP3 specialises in international cooperation as well as mergers and cartel issues. The working groups usually meet twice a year. The topics discussed in the meetings are selected in advance, and the OECD Secretariat draws up a background document for them. The member states also have the opportunity to prepare written submissions on the topics to support the discussion at the meeting. The themes discussed are systematically examined from the perspectives of both competition law and competition economics. The FCCA participates in the meetings and submits written submissions every year.
The Competition Committee also prepares various Recommendations on competition for the approval of the OECD Council’s Ministerial Level meetings. The recommendations play a significant role, as they can be considered to affect the national policies of the adherents. In addition, the competition authorities of the member states prepare an Annual Report on their activities.
Competition themes are also discussed with non-OECD countries in the so-called OECD Global Forum on Competition.
Competition issues are from occasionally also discussed in the Economic Policy Committee of the OECD, alongside the Competition Committee.
More information on OECD Competition Committee
The collaboration involves the competition authorities of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
The cooperation between the Nordic competition authorities is complementary to other international cooperation. The countries have also concluded a cooperation agreement, the aim of which is to enhance the exchange of information and thus also the investigation of restrictions on competition.
Among other things, the Nordic cooperation agreement allows the countries to help each other with inspections and to submit information to each other. The exchange of confidential information is also possible. The information collected may be used as evidence of a restriction on competition in the receiving country. The agreement also covers cooperation in merger control.
The exchange of information between the Nordic competition authorities enables the efficient use of investigative resources. The Nordic agreement covers the use of investigation powers also in national cases, which means that the powers are more extensive than in the EU cooperation.
Current themes are discussed in the Annual Meeting. In addition, the Directors-General of the agencies meet twice a year to coordinate the cooperation between the agencies. When necessary, the authorities also meet in special working groups, such as the economist, lawyer and cartel working groups.
As part of the cooperation, the Nordic competition authorities also periodically publish reports on current competition issues.
The FCCA is an active member of the International Competition Network (ICN). The ICN mainly comprises of competition authorities from across the world, and it is the world’s largest organisation focused on competition law, competition policy and competition economics.
As the content of competition law varies from country to country, the objective of the ICN is to increase understanding and discussion on competition issues.
The network does not have the authority to issue binding norms, but it draws up international guiding principles and best practices based on the consensus of its members. The work is carried out in projects and based on voluntary work. ICN and the OECD Competition Committee coordinate their activities to avoid overlaps.
ICN is organised in various working groups. These working groups usually have three fixed-term co-chairs responsible for the working group’s projects. The term of the co-chairs is three years. The projects are presented annually at the ICN Annual Conference. The representative of the FCCA was one of the co-chairs of the Agency Effectiveness Working Group between 2014– 2017.
ICN keeps in contact and engages in discussions not only with its members but also with companies and countries still developing their competition policies. The network also prepares reports on current and interesting topics. The FCCA has been a member of the drafting team in Merger Remedies Guide (2016).
The FCCA is also a founding member of the ICN Framework for Competition Agency Procedures (CAP) system, the aim of which is to increase discussion between national competition authorities and improve the international predictability of competition enforcement. The competition authorities involved in the system undertake to comply with universally accepted procedural principles when examining restrictions on competition or when assessing the competitive effects of mergers.
More information on ICN