MEE considers merging competition and consumer agencies
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) will look into the possibility of integrating the Competition Authority and the Finnish Consumer Agency. The prospective new agency could also include the National Consumer Research Centre. This spring, the MEE will publish a report investigating the possibilities and providing background information for a potential decision to carry out the merger.
If given the go-ahead, the integrated agency could become operational at the beginning of 2013.
'As these three authorities are working together to foster effective markets, combining them may be justified. Any decisions will be based on the principles set out in the Government Programme: the objective of a level playing field for businesses of all sizes in terms of competition and markets that benefit consumers.A merger could also strengthen the ability to carry out research and analysis in these fields,' said Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen.
'Our objective is to increase the social impact of competition and consumer affairs. The reform would also streamline administration. However, we must take into account legislative differences in the nature of competition and consumer affairs. Our purpose is not to change the statutory tasks of these authorities. With regard to the National Consumer Research Centre, we also must follow the government guidelines on sectoral research,' Mr Ihalainen added.
Globally, there are many examples of merging competition and consumer authorities. Within the Nordic region, the relevant Danish authorities were integrated about a year ago. Competition and consumer administrations have been similarly integrated in the United Kingdom and in Italy, and Ireland too has made a decision to bring together its competition and consumer authorities.
A steering group, chaired by Director General Raimo Luoma, will be appointed for the report project. The steering group will include representatives from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Ministry of Justice, Competition Authority, Finnish Consumer Agency, and National Consumer Research Centre. Employee representatives from the affected agencies will be involved in the preparations from the outset, and the principles of good human resources policy will be followed throughout the project.
The report is related to the preparations for a new consumer policy programme, to be completed in the coming months.
As agreed in the government strategy meeting on 28 February of this year, the MEE will also prepare for an extensive project to promote healthy competition, to be decided upon in the budget framework session.
'As part of its measures to execute structural changes, the Government will initiate a long-term, broad-based project to promote healthy competition in Finland. The project will involve several sectors. The amended Competition Act will help support this work,' said Mr Ihalainen, who is also Minister for Competition.
Sources of further information:
Janne Metsämäki, Secretary of State, at tel. +358 10 604 8014
Pilvi Torsti, Special Adviser, at tel. +358 10 604 8005
Raimo Luoma, Director General, MEE, at tel. +358 10 606 3621