The yearbook of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) exhibits what the agency has achieved in 2017 in securing financial competition and consumer protection. Several decisions and solutions were reached related to supervising restraint of competition and consumer protection, and the agency adopted a new duty of supervising public procurements. In addition to supervision, the FCCA also made an impact on matters such as regulations on transportation and social welfare and health care services by bringing up important factors related to the functionality of competition and the position of consumers.
The objective of the FCCA is to create healthy and effective markets in which companies and other operators act responsibly and in keeping with consumers' interests. To reach this goal, measures related to both consumer protection and competition law are needed.
At the end of 2017, the Market Court gave a decision where several coach companies, the Finnish Bus and Coach Association and Matkahuolto were ordered to pay a fine for a long-term cartel. The decision was partly in line with the penalty proposal made by the FCCA, although the amount of the fine was smaller than proposed. The case was an example of how companies operating in the field aim to nullify the benefits that an open market provides to customers and consumers.
A total of 26 decision were made in merger control in 2017. Six cases were transferred to further processing and in two cases conditions were set for the approval of the sale. In 2017, there were 15 cases pending at the supervision of competitive neutrality involving suspicion of public sector entity activities that compromise competitive neutrality.
In the beginning of 2017, the FCCA was granted the authority to monitor compliance with the legislation on public procurement. The new role was shown to be useful, as the agency discovered shortcomings in procurement procedures in the very early stages of its supervisory activities.
Old familiar sectors kept the agency busy
In 2017, on the Consumer Division of the FCCA, the Consumer Ombudsman was contacted 4,600 times, of which 88 consumer rights cases were taken into further processing following the prioritisation principles. The supervision of sports shop and furniture store marketing, that was started in previous years, was continued by taking several companies to Market Court or by imposing marketing bans for misleading marketing. Payday loans and subscription traps also continued to keep the FCCA busy. The FCCA also promoted consumers’ possibilities to handle their consumer issues independently with the support of the online Consumer Advisory Service at Kuluttajaneuvonta.fi, Facebook page and Complaint Assistant.
Alongside supervision of restriction of competition and consumer rights, the agency also promoted functionality of competition and position of consumers, especially in regulative changes related to the transport sector, the financial market, electronic communication and social welfare and health care services. The purpose is to ensure that the key principles of the functioning of competition and consumer protection are not forgotten in the revision of regulations. The FCCA also commented on the competition and consumer aspects of the new phenomena associated with the digital business environment, such as platforms and the collaborative economy. The FCCA continued to develop electronic monitoring and inspection tools.
The FCCA also conducts research and studies that contribute to planning and implementation of competition and consumer policy. In 2017, six reports were published that looked into matter such as construction regulation, platforms and the views of consumers and hotels on booking sites.
The FCCA’s Yearbook 2017 (will be published in English in June)