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The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency has stopped using the parallel name ‘Väylä’, which was criticised by the Parliamentary Ombudsman

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (Väylävirasto) has announced its intention to cease using the parallel name ‘Väylä’, which Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen considered unlawful in a decision he issued last December (6513/2018 etc.). The decision was part of the Ombudsman’s assessment of the names of organisations operating under the administrative branch of the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

At the Ombudsman’s request, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency announced the action it would take in this matter. However, the Ombudsman did not consider the announcement sufficient. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency had not given its views on how the only Finnish ‘Väylä’ name or the logo containing the name satisfied the requirement to treat Finland’s national languages equally. The Agency did not have a similar parallel name or abbreviation in Swedish.

The Ombudsman continued to address the matter at his own initiative. While some other authorities may have used abbreviations or parallel names for a long time, it is not considered acceptable from the standpoint of the oversight of legality to invoke the use or manner of use of such abbreviations or parallel names, and the Ombudsman emphasised this point when he sent his request for information and a statement to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency has now announced that it has revised its graphical guidelines and stopped using ‘Väylä’ as a parallel name. The Ombudsman found that the action ultimately taken by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency was appropriate and in line with the principles of the Ombudsman’s prior decisions. As such, the case did not require the Ombudsman to take any further action.

Decision 2431/2020 by Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen is available in full in Finnish on the Ombudsman’s website, www.oikeusasiamies.fi

For more information, please contact Principal Legal Adviser Mikko Sarja, tel. + 358 9 432 3364.