The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has announced that it will set up a steering group to investigate the possibility of merging the Finnish Competition Authority and the Finnish Consumer Agency, and at the same time also assess whether the National Consumer Research Centre could be combined to the potential new entity as well.
The investigation will be completed during the spring. The possible decision to merge will be made later based on the investigation. If the decision to merge is made, the new office could start operations in the beginning of 2013.
According to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, all the three bodies promote the functioning of the markets; a fact might favour the merger. The combination would also make it possible to strengthen the research and analysis concerning these issues. The overall aim is to increase the impact of competition and consumer issues in Finland. The reform might also bring efficiency benefits in the administration. However, the Ministry holds that when assessing the possible merger, the differences in the nature of competition and consumer issues resulting from legislation should be taken into consideration. It is not the intention to change the law-based tasks of the offices.
In the budget proposals for 2012, the Finnish Competition Authority has a budget of 6.16 million euros, Finnish Consumer Authority a budget of 4.83 million euros and the National Consumer Research Centre a budget of 2.12 million euros. If the three bodies were to be combined, the new office would have a staff of roughly 180.
There are many international examples of the combination of competition and consumer issues. It has been done in Denmark roughly a year ago, and in Great Britain and Italy. Ireland has also made a decision to merge the two offices.
The merging investigation will be conducted by a steering group, which has representation from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of Justice, the Finnish Competition Authority, the Finnish Consumer Agency and the National Consumer Research Centre. Representatives of the personnel will be participating from the start, and the principles of good administration will be adhered to.
The investigation is related to the preparation of the new Consumer Policy Programme, which will be completed in the near months.
The Ministry of the Employment and the Economy is also preparing an extensive initiative to promote sound and effective economic competition. This will require measures in various sectors. The reformed Competition Act will provide a good basis for this work.
The translation is based on the press release and materials of the MEE made available on 15 March 2012.
last modified 9/10/2012