The FCA was founded in 1988 on the proposal of the Competition and Price Committee set up by then Minister for Foreign Trade Jermu Laine in 1985 and led by Minister Esko Rekola during the rule of Prime Minister Harri Holkeri. At the same time, Finland abandoned price regulation which had continued for decades.
The new agency which began its operations in October 1988 was awarded the task of supervising compliance with the new Act on Competition Restrictions (709/1988) which had been issued a couple of months ago. Forbidden competition restraints included, with more specific provisions than before, vertical retail price maintenance and bidding cartels.
The first Director General of the agency was Matti Purasjoki who had acted as the Secretary General of the Competition and Price Committee. The first premises for the agency were found in an old skimming machine factory owned by Kone ja Siltarakennus Oy on Sörnäisten rantatie. The number of Staff was 50.
From the start, the FCA sought to be an active social influence – not just an enforcer of rules. This e.g. showed in that in October 1989 the FCA commenced the tradition of the annual “KIVI days”, an event directed at stakeholder groups, which still continues.
In 1992, the 1988 Competition Act was replaced by a new Act of the same name (480/1992), which forbade all other cartels and the abuse of dominant position in addition to resale price maintenance and bidding cartels. The reform was related to Finland’s aspiration to become an EU member and brought the Finnish competition rules closer to the European legislation.
With active support from the FCA, regulation hindering effective competition was dismantled all through the 1990s. Finland’s accession to the EU in 1995 was a real breakthrough in this sense. Regulation was dismantled e.g. in the foodstuff, energy, transport, financing and communications sectors – often faster than in many other EU countries.
The control of abuse of dominance also brought results. The major cases in this sense were the Valio (3482/1/1997) and Ajasto (3590/1/1999) decisions by the Supreme Administrative Court and the Elisa case (1590/690/1999) by the Competition Council. In these decisions, a total of 32 million marks were imposed in fines on the companies, most of them (25 million marks) to Elisa.
In October 1998, provisions on merger control were added to the Competition Act (303/1998), which made it possible for the FCA to intervene, in advance, in major concentrations significantly impeding competition.
In 1999, the FCA moved from Sörnäinen to Hakaniemi, to an office building situated beside Pitkänsillanranta, where it still resides. The exact address is Pitkänsillanranta 3.
Promoting competition in other ways than applying competition rules (Advocacy) emerged more and more both in domestic and international discussion in the 2000s. For example in the OECD Competition Committee, where the FCA is an active member, the impacts of regulation on competition have been a regular topic.
The main objectives of advocacy are to secure equal operating conditions (competition neutrality) for all market actors and to ensure market entry by new undertakings. To this effect, the FCA has sought to secure that the municipal and governmental production units will not use their position and tax revenue obtained for public service tasks in a way which distorts the competitive market.
The operating environment of the FCA underwent a considerable change in May 2004 when the competent national authorities and courts were entrusted with full powers to apply the competition restraints Articles of the Treaty of Rome. The national Act was also amended in the same context (318/2004), to define the forbidden restraints in the same manner both in Finland and the EU.
On 1 May 2004, certain restraints related to distribution and supply agreements were also forbidden in addition to the restrictions which had been forbidden earlier. The system of exemptions and negative clearances was also waived at the same time, and the leniency system was introduced to Finland.
From 1 May 2004, the European Commission and the competition authorities of the EU member states have formed a network of European competition authorities (ECN), with the objective to secure an efficient and uniform application of the EU competition rules in the internal market. The network members regularly meet each other and cooperate in the implementation of the rules.
Since the beginning of 2005, the FCA has been headed by Director General Juhani Jokinen, who has worked in various tasks at the agency since the founding thereof. Director General Purasjoki retired soon after the EU reforms has become effective in December 2004.
In the beginning of Jokinen's period of office, the FCA’s actions were characterised by long-pending court proceedings e.g. in cartel cases, in addition to the implementation of the 2004 reforms. The results achieved in the trials are vital in enforcing a credible "hard core" anti-cartel policy in Finland
In advocacy, the emphasis has been on stressing the importance of marketization in the development of public welfare and other services. Additionally, in 2008 the FCA published an extensive study on competition and the status thereof in Finland (the Competition Review) and a separate investigation on the competitive conditions in the construction sector. The next Competition Survey will be completed by the end of 2010.
In addition to the ECN, the FCA works in close collaboration with other Nordic competition authorities. For example the Nordic joint reports have been drafted annually from the year 2002 onwards. The latest of these discuss the role of competition policy in the financial crisis (2009) and the significance of competition in generating economic growth based on sustainable development (2010).
Reinforcing credible "hard core" anti-cartel policy has long been one of the FCA's main aims. The investigation of the cartel tip-offs received is nowadays prioritised in the activities and methods of economic analysis are used in the screening thereof. Anonymous tip-offs can also be submitted to the FCA via a tip-off link that can be found on the FCA's website.
Advocacy seeks to promote the removal of the structural impediments of competition and the increase of competition in the infrastructure and service fields in particular. The publication Competition Review 2: Wise regulation - well-functioning markets, in which attention is paid to the defects in regulatory impact analysis, is one of the tools used in the advocacy work.
In the beginning of November 2011, the new Competition Act (948/2011) entered into force following a long preparatory period. It supersedes the old Act on Competition Restrictions (480/1992). The main amendments relate to merger control, penalties, the procedure adhered to in the review of competition issues and damages. When the new Act became effective, a number of consultation events were arranged in various parts of Finland.
last modified 2/16/2012