About the centre – University of Copenhagen

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About the centre

Til toppen1. CORA as a research centre

CORA was established as a focus area at the Faculty of Law on September 1, 2010, continuing the former research group FFG - Research Group on Administrative Law. CORA has been evaluated by an external research committee appointed by the dean of the faculty.

The centre aims to clarify the development of fundamental values and principles of law in an age where Europeanization and globalisation of the society has led to an increase in public regulation and administration of specific spheres of life. As such, the centre will research and critically analyse the changing faces of governmental power in public law.

Til toppen2. The research area

The centre covers research in the field of public law - including interdisciplinary research related to this field - which deals with the development of public regulation and administration. In particular, the centre explores the development of the fundamental values and principles of law concerning the interaction between state, administration and citizen.

Public regulation and administration have become increasingly critical in a society which is experiencing fundamental and fast-moving changes in technology and values. As the importance of public regulation and administration has grown, this body of law has become more complex and difficult to implement.  

E-government: The understanding and application of administrative law rules and the fundamental values and considerations these rules are based on in e-government, including the possible need for legal reform. Both “ordinary” e-government and intelligent government, based upon kinds of artificial intelligence, is included.

Specific sub-subjects that are of interest to CORA include: general administrative law, the equivalent parts of EU law, European human rights law and a number of special subjects in administrative law. In addition, as these subjects touch upon constitutional law, international law criminal law and the law of legal proceedings including mediation, elements of these subjects will be considered as well.

The development of civil law is in many ways a reflection of the development within public law and as such civil law is of interest to this present project. However, the demarcation of the research area is based on a classical idea that it is possible and beneficial to keep public law separated from civil law.

Til toppen3. Background and relevance

As mentioned above, the research area should be seen in the light of the globalisation, and more specifically, the interaction between the states of the world. This development puts pressure on the fundamental values and principles of public law. Specifically the outgrowth of supranational institutions ousts the national democracies. Likewise a neoliberal ideology of globalisation manifests itself by a marketisation of all kinds of relations between state, administration and citizen, risking a deterioration of the legal rights of the citizens at the expense of possible benefits of the administrative efficiency.

In many ways, this development is full of contradictions. For instance, it must be acknowledged that the current climate- and environmental problems can not be solved within the confines of the individual national state ; the supranationalisation of these policy areas is a necessary consequence of the fact that these problems are connected all over the world and must be solved collectively. At the same time, it must probably be taken for granted that transferring decisions to a supranational forum does not in itself guarantee that the problems will be solved, since the resolve of the participating states here as well depends on domestic public opinion and on the character and strength of the current interests in the individual states.

Likewise, it must be acknowledged that social and health-related problems can not be solved within the institutional frameworks of the present welfare state and that preventive measures may be required, both collectively and individually, in respect to a series of problems. And yet, there is no doubt that individualising problems of illness and unemployment will not necessarily solve the problems either, since they can be rooted in underlying problems of which the individual has no control.

The development as described is intensified by the fact that society is currently influenced by fundamental and fast-moving changes at all levels. Even though the fundamental traits of the mechanisms creating growth and welfare in the present modern European society have been unchanged through decades, the Danish society of today is very different from the one that existed 20, 50 or 100 years ago. To understand current developments it is necessary to recognize and analyse the actual and contradictory development related to the globalisation of which Europeanisation is part.

The centre's jurisprudential analysis of the changes of the society will, as mentioned above, focus on the way in which these changes have manifested themselves in relation to the judicial institutions and to fundamental values and principles.  The challenge is partly how to identify practical consequences of the changes and partly how to estimate the development in a politico-legal perspective. In this matter it is not so much the borderlines between public and private which are of interest as it is the internal development of institutions, values and principles, where the changing order has most clearly left its mark. This last-mentioned development is the primary subject to be analyzed in the project.

Til toppen4. The aim of the centre

As mentioned above the centre aims to clarify the development of fundamental values and principles of law in an age where Europeanization and globalisation of the society has led to an increase in public regulation and administration of specific spheres of life. As such, the centre will research and critically analyse the changing faces of governmental power in public law.

In relation to the development of the values, it is primarily the institutions of the European Union, the universal human rights and the established guaranties for legal rights of the citizens which are influenced by this development and which will particularly be the pivot of the activity of the centre. In the field of each of these subjects the development of the law is characterized by a wide range of principles of law which, to a greater or lesser extent, are all both influenced by and influence the development in progress themselves.

Focusing on the challenges that confront public administration caused by the described development includes analyses of how these challenges are dealt with in law-making, in case law and in statutory regulation. Moreover, the practical consequences - intended or unintended - hereof for citizens and society in general are considered.

As to the normative standards of good administration, the focus will be on the traditional ideas of legal rights of citizens and the efficiency of the administration and the weighing of these fundamental interests which continually must be made in accordance with the development of the - economical and other - conditions under which the administration must function.

In addition to this it is also endeavoured to include ideas of Good Governance, which in recent times have been developed in modern political science, and which can be seen - planned on a more generous scale - as a contrast to the above-mentioned ideas of the rule of law and of administrative efficiency

Til toppen5. The international profile of the centre  

As mentioned, the subject of the research area is public regulation and administration. The demarcation of the research field does not imply that the activities of the centre exclusively are concerned with national circumstances. As a matter of course, public regulation and administration are international phenomena in the sense that they are unavoidable elements in the government of any society. So it is natural to look for inspiration in other states by comparative analyses, obviously preferably of states with a social system that is comparable with our society, as judged by parameters of democracy, welfare state and a community founded on the rule of law etc.

To this must be added that especially the area of public law is under direct influence of supranational and international governing bodies by virtue of European Community law and the case law of The Court of Human Rights, among other things. As is well known, particularly the European Community law-making has reached such vast proportions that it is hardly possible to do jurisprudential research without involving this area of law. To this must further be added the importance of international conventions and treaties to which Denmark has acceded, with effect on the public regulation and administration, including for instance the convention of local self-government from the Council of Europe.

In these circumstances it is necessary for the centre to develop further and to consolidate an international profile through involvement in international, as well as Nordic, co-operative research, and by entering in the regulation initiatives of the European Community law and other politico-legal activities at EU level. A co-operation like this already exists for a number of members of the centre and it will also be an element in the staff recruitment of the centre. In return, the centre seeks to attract international researchers by an upgrading and enlargement of the activities in the centre.

Til toppen6. The vision and mission of the centre

Public institutions today are typically characterized by a self-designed vision and mission which specify the aim and objective of the activities. In a similar way the vision and the mission of the centre can be defined as follows, in the light of the above mentioned: 

  • The vision of the centre is to produce fundamental research within its area at an international level as well as to contribute to an effective communication thereof, both internally to academic forum, and externally, to the public. The centre also seeks to contribute to research-based teaching in the law curriculum.
  • The mission of the centre is to participate as an important player - both nationally and internationally - in the research-related analysis of current trends of developments in the public regulation and administration as well as in the politico-legal work with the continuing development and adjustment of the fundamental values and principles of public law to the current development of society.