In the World Economic Forum’s recent comparison, Finland was at the forefront when competition legislation was evaluated to see how effectively it promoted competition. However, in a comparison of the effectiveness of competition, Finland did not fare so well. The comparative data was based on responses from representatives of the business sector.
Finland’s competition legislation was comprehensively reviewed in 2011, and the main regulations relating to the regulation of competition were already brought into compliance with EU competition legislation in 2004. The law was last reviewed this year and regulations were added relating to the competitive neutrality between public and private sector business operations and to grocery retailing.
Last year the Government took a decision on the Programme for promoting healthy competition (in Finnish) which specifically aimed to increase competition in Finnish markets. The value added of the sectors included in the program is some EUR 50 billion, i.e. about a quarter of GDP. The statement recently approved by the Government a Structural Policy Programme also included several measures aimed at promoting competition.
“Effective competition plays a key role in the productivity and development of the economy,” stresses Juhani Jokinen, the Director General of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. Competition policy has major significance in the maintenance of well-being because at the end of the day, competition between companies benefits customers and consumers. According to Mr Jokinen, the merging of the Finnish Competition Authority with the Finnish Consumer Agency to form a single Authority at the beginning of the year, and the new provisions of the Competition Act, provide a good basis for increasing the impact of both competition and consumer policy.
“Fair competition between companies is also in the interest of consumers, because competition lowers prices and promotes innovation,” emphasises Pekka Timonen, Head of Department, Director General, Labour and Trade Department, at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The World Economic Forum’s comparison shows that the Finnish Competition Authority has carried out some excellent and productive work in Finland. However, it also shows that we still have plenty of room for improvement with regard to economic competitiveness. With regard to international competitiveness too, the competitiveness of the domestic market is critically important.
Finland is in third place this year too in the Global Competitiveness Report with Switzerland in first place and Singapore in second. Finland’s particular strengths in the comparison were its effective public institutions, health care and basic education as well as higher level education and training where there has been a lot of investment over a long period of time. The fundamental prerequisites for innovation and its exploitation are therefore in place.