Finnish Water Forum organizes meetings and other activities, in which participants may be each others direct or potential competitors. The organizers and participants of such meetings should acknowledge the restrictions and prohibitions on entrepreneurial co-operation stipulated by the competition law of the European Union and Finland. Finnish Water Forum has compiled a separate competition law compliance charter as of 2022. In addition, to support the membership activities, a checklist of prohibited topics of discussion and good practices of meeting has been published in the form of a list. More information or guidance in the event of uncertainties can be requested by a legal counsel.
Complying with competition regulations in the activities of Finnish Water Forum
In meetings and other events organized by the Finnish Water Forum and its members, it is usually allowed to discuss e.g. about the industry’s general interest monitoring, such as initiatives, statements and regulatory changes. Topics concerning environmental protection and work and product safety, industry quality control and technical standards open to all, and training are also generally allowed topics. Prohibited or sensitive topics include, for example, making offers, agreeing on prices or matters affecting them. Discussing the sharing of markets, customers or procurement sources, limiting production or investments, boycotts or exchanging or agreeing on other sensitive information are also forbidden or sensitive topics from the point of view of competition law. The organizer of the meetings and the participants must jointly ensure compliance with the competition regulations.
Checklist for Finnish Water Forum members
- The principles and regulations of competition law are followed in all activities of the Finnish Water Forum. Members must intervene in any kind of anti-competitive activity and, if necessary, report anti-competitive activity to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Agency FCCA (KKV).
- All types of procedures and information exchange between competitors that prevent, limit or distort competition in the market are prohibited. The exchange of information may concern, for example, prices or their formation, sales areas, important plans, production or customers.
- In any case, competitors are not allowed to coordinate their business operations, even in informal discussions, so that they no longer make their decisions completely independently, and competitors are not allowed to remove the uncertainty regarding normal price and market behavior.
- The exchange and disclosure of confidential information is prohibited.
- In all meetings of the association, the agenda submitted in advance is accepted as the agenda of the meeting and must be kept to for the duration of the meeting. These instructions are reminded of at the beginning of the meeting. Minutes are kept of the meetings.
- The meetings do not discuss topics prohibited by competition law, and all participants have the obligation to object to and interrupt such discussion, as well as to leave the meeting if necessary.
- For example, the industry’s general interest protection, training, industry’s general and open-to-all standards and quality control, work and product safety, environmental protection, publishing and legal advice of the membership are allowed, as long as the activity does not have anti-competitive effects.
- Cooperation between competitors, for example in research and development matters or in the establishment of a tender group, requires great care in order for the cooperation to be permitted under competition law.
Further information and useful links:
1. Communication from the Commission — Guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to horizontal co-operation agreements Text with EEA relevance – available at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A52011XC0114%2804%29
2. FCCA – Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority’s instructions: How does competition legislation affect industry associations? available (only in Finnish) at https://www.kkv.fi/kilpailuasiat/toimialayhdistykset/