The Finnish Heritage Agency is committed to undertake measures to improve neutral competition conditions

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) has investigated into the business activities carried out by the Finnish Heritage Agency on the archaeological research market. As the Finnish Heritage Agency has committed itself to measures that, among other things, will improve its precondition to set market-based prices on its services, the FCCA has closed its investigation on 7 May 2020.

The Finnish Heritage Agency conducts archaeological studies, such as excavations and inspections related to construction projects and studies carried out in connection with zoning. The Finnish Heritage Agency has several statutory duties based on the Antiquities Act, but its service provision competes partly with similar services provided by private companies. Authorities, when exercising their responsibilities, do not seek profit, nor do such responsibilities fall within the scope of competition neutrality supervision as conducted by the FCCA, but the public sector must also pursue their commercial activities in accordance with commercial principles. Among other things, pricing must be market-based and public operators must take the requirement of setting a reasonable rate of return into account in order to enable private companies to compete on the market with the aim of gaining profit.

Pricing applied by the Finnish Heritage Agency could have been distorted because the costs of statutory duties and economic activities carried out on the market had not been sufficiently separated from each other. Also, the requirement for reasonable rate of return included in the requirements laid down for market-based pricing had not been properly taken into account in some bid calculations.

During the investigation, the Finnish Heritage Agency undertook to implement several measures that will improve its possibilities to comply with market-based pricing. Among other things, the Finnish Heritage Agency will improve its calculation of costs, which will also help make pricing calculations more accurate and will provide a realistic view of the profitability of its economic activities on the market. In the future, the Finnish Heritage Agency will also take into account the requirement set for reasonable returns in the pricing of archaeological studies, which will in part contribute to safeguarding the possibilities of private companies to participate in the implementation of archaeological studies.

The Antiquities Act must be reformed to improve competitive neutrality

Some of the problems associated with the archaeological research market are related to the Antiquities Act, which regulates the tasks of the Finnish Heritage Agency. Most of the provisions of the Antiquities Act of 1963 are open to interpretation, and they were drafted at a time when there was not yet private supply in the field of archaeological studies. During the investigation, the FCCA was in contact with the Ministry of Education and Culture over the needs to reform the Act. According to the Ministry of Education and Culture, considerations related to safeguarding competition neutrality will be taken into account in the forthcoming overall reform of the Antiquities Act.

“The corrective measures taken by the Finnish Heritage Agency and the launching of the overall reform of the Antiquities Act could be considered sufficient to secure the preconditions for healthy and well-functioning competition on the market of archaeological research,” says Mia Salonen, Head of Research at the FCCA. The FCCA no longer considered it likely that significant negative competitive effects would arise and closed the case.

The objective of competitive neutrality supervision is to promote economic efficiency and the appropriate allocation of society’s resources by safeguarding the prerequisites for fair competition between public and private business activities. The State, a municipality, association of municipalities, or an entity under their control sometimes enjoy advantages on the market that they have due to public ownership, and which private businesses can never have. Such unjustified advantages can distort competition and, at worst, lead to the exclusion of private operators hat are equally efficient and are competing on their own merits.

Public version of the decision (in Finnish)

More information:

Head of Research Mia Salonen tel. +358 29 505 3007
Senior specialist Teemu Karttunen, tel. +358 29 505 3315,