The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) has made a proposal to the Market Court to impose a EUR 38 million fine on seven bus companies, as well as the Finnish Bus and Coach Association and the bus terminal operator Oy Matkahuolto Ab. The FCCA also ordered Matkahuolto to cease anticompetitive conduct that shuts out bus companies form the market.
The matter relates to EU Regulation 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services pursuant to which bus services were opened up to competition in 2009. The FCCA alleges that the Bus and Coach Association, Matkahuolto and seven of the leading Finnish bus companies reached an agreement on a common strategy no later than in autumn 2008, which to some extent still continues. The objective of the strategy was to prevent, or at least delay, the opening up of the market and sustain the prevailing market conditions despite the regulatory amendment.
According to the FCCA, the intention of the parties to the alleged cartel was primarily to influence the new national legislation through lobbying. The lobbying activities are not subject to the fine. The FCCA alleges that the parties also agreed on restricting their internal competition and on excluding new bus companies from Matkahuolto’s ticketing system and parcel services.
The FCCA finds that the conduct qualifies as a serious breach of national and EU competition rules. The matter is currently pending with the Market Court.