CME´s researchers are involved in a number of current and prospective projects within the center's focus area of economic law:
Competition law represents a well-established, independent discipline with great importance not merely for individual companies but also for the structure of industry and society at large. It can also have implications for public regulation. Several of CME's members have broad experience in this area of law and have published works on the topic. Competition law has a close kinship with the science of economics. After the establishment of CME the two following projects will be prioritized:
- The Relationship Between Economic Goals/Values and Other Goals/Values - A Discussion of the Purpose of Competition Law
The principle of undistorted competition has been of fundamental importance since the beginning of the EU cooperation. It has had great influence on competition law in both theory and practice. Here, the principle has typically been seen to reflect that the ideology of a market economy is the starting point in the EU. Over the past ten years the EU Commission seems to have carried out a more 'economic approach´ in competition law and has focused increasingly on the economic effect of anticompetitive behavior and efficiency, just as they always have underlined that consumer welfare is and should be the only goal behind the rules governing competition. With the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty the principle of undistorted competition has been taken out of the Treaty itself and instead put into a Protocol to the Treaty, whereas Article 3 TFEU now stipulates that the Union shall consistently work for development based on amongst other things "social market economy". It is therefore of great consequence to analyze what this change will mean for competition law in its future form.
- Economic Theory and Competition Law
Although there is widespread agreement that economic theory has a significant impact on competition law, there is both in Denmark and the EU a need to deal more systematically with the context. Thus, within the theory of economics there are various schools of thought, which not only weigh opposing considerations differently but also have different perceptions on the need to intervene in regards to a given behavior. CME wishes to examine the underlying reasons for this in addition to the practical consequences in the form of varying regulations in each jurisdiction, the internal shifts within these jurisdictions if any, as well as matters concerning the economic theory and other sources that affect the application of the law.
Marketing law is an area of great significance to the legal-economic constitution/framework. A lot of harmonization has taken place over the years and there is extensive and important practice from EU courts on the area. Harmonization - at least in regards to some of the areas touched upon – has moved into a new phase over recent years and full harmonization is being worked upon to an increasing degree with a view to creating common European standards. This gives rise to specific challenges concerning how the discipline is to be understood. It is an important topic of research to define whether or not a set of common European standards can be said to be already established or on their way. Furthermore, the modern day marketing law in an EU legal context is very much pervaded by viewpoints advocating the protection of the consumer. Marketing and consumer law are therefore closely linked.
Freedom of movement is an area that has its foundation in a number of provisions of primary law. Based on case law it is possible, though usually complex - despite extensive material and many years of existence - to establish a framework of existing law. Many basic concepts / principles such as mutual recognition, access to the market, proportionality, country of origin, etc. are still not fully clarified and considerable theoretical disagreement occurs. Meanwhile, the legal implications of this area of law remain large. This can for example be given perspective by the fact that other freedoms than the freedom of movement, which originally constituted a kind of prime mover, have become significant. Furthermore, the secondary law of a more transverse nature, such as the Services Directive, the Residence Directive and the Directive regulating the posting of workers has become significant.
The international dimension of economic activity is a growing area of interest for legal researchers and practitioners in economic law, as it involves an understanding of the institutional framework that governs economic relations among different states, as well as the behaviour of economic agents in cross-border transactions. In this context, a growing body of domestic, regional and international law has developed in order to address the various economic issues with global impact, as well as the effects of foreign economic activity into the domestic territory. This broad agenda includes comparative studies in the fields of trade, economic integration, competition policy, foreign direct investment, business regulation, as well as the transnational movement of goods, services, workforce and capital.
CME has been particularly focusing on the following topics:
- Competition law and policy in an international and comparative context;
- International Trade Law, including WTO and domestic trade policy;
- Integration Law, including the European Union, NAFTA and Mercosur;
- Foreign direct investment law and non-discriminatory economic treatment; and
- The interplay between law and economic development
The expression "media law" is used both in Denmark and in English works of literature. However, the expression does not correlate with any well-defined discipline. What the term covers is therefore still under development, although it has to be said that the media and their legal position are both trans-boundary in nature and of utmost importance to the EU's economic-legal constitution/framework, which is the springboard for CME's work. Several members of CME are already working intensively with the media and their legal position. Advertising and regulation of radio and television law is an area important to the disciplines that deal with the legal position of the media. The Media Liability Act and rules protecting against crime constitute another significant part of the overall societal regulation of the legal position of the media. In addition there are other relevant issues such as the freedom of expression, the protection of personal integrity and law governing the press.
The concept of services of general economic interest was originally only important within competition law in that it, right from the adoption of The Treaty of Rome, has appeared in the competition provision, which is now Article 106 (2) TFEU. However, it also currently has significance for i.e. state aid law, free movement, fundamental rights and the Services Directive. Thus, the term now appears in several provisions of primary and secondary law. It therefore makes great sense to examine the subject more transversely. The concept is rooted in national legal concepts such as "public services" or "welfare services", yet is not always necessarily identical with these. Examples of what can be included in the concept - understood as "market services" with particular characteristics - are the big network industries such as the electricity sector, gas sector, telecommunications sector, postal services and transport sectors. Other possible areas could include water distribution, waste treatment as well as radio and television. In addition, certain core welfare services could be covered. The clarification of existing law, the definition of the area’s challenges, the identification of trends as well as the establishing of recommendations for the proper handling of these challenges are therefore all of immediate economic and political significance. The area has received much international attention and contains many fields of study for research.
The interaction or conflict between fundamental rights and i.e. private law is a current research topic, which has gained increasing importance over recent years. It is a subject matter that holds implications for many of the areas that CME examines, including competition and marketing law, freedom of movement, the internal organization of the European Commission’s General Directorate for Competition and the significance of this for the competition process. CME's employees have extensive prior experience in this sphere and it is a problem area which is likely to gain increasing importance in future.
An EU Member State's allocation of funding is a means which it can use to control corporate behavior and thus society’s economic development. Financial aid gives the beneficiaries an advantage because the aid eases the financial burdens that businesses themselves otherwise would have had to have borne when carrying out their activities. The economic benefit derived from the support, thereby giving firms an advantage in competing with those companies who do not receive financial support. To ensure a level playing field between firms in the EU internal market, Article 107 and 108 TFEU set out rules that ensure the Commission has knowledge of and control with the financial support that EU's 27 Member States provide to businesses. EU rules on state aid limits the scope for Member States to provide such financial support and this is therefore an area of great significance to both businesses and Member States. Within the research field of state aid the demarcation between the competence of the EU and the Member State is of particular interest.
Another area of research is for example the relationship between Member States and the state-owned enterprises, where it, in order to ensure equal and fair competition on the market, is essential to safeguard against the existence of cross subsidies between activities in a monopoly area and activities subject to competition. By extension, it is also of interest to research how one can ensure equal terms of competition when states provide financial compensation to companies in return for performing specific public functions within for example the media sector.
The legal concept of ‘Union Citizenship’ was introduced in the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and, since then, the European Court of Justice has contributed to developing its legal foundation through a series of landmark judgements. However, more than twenty years after its coming into being, Union Citizenship can still be said to have an ‘unrealised potential’. Union citizens are often unaware of their status and rights. Although Union Citizenship does not replace national citizenship, it provides a series of rights and protections that in many ways (but not entirely) approach the status of migrant Union citizens to that of their host Member State nationals. Therefore, in many Member States there seem still to exist barriers to the realisation of the rights of Union citizens, among others because there is still disagreement on the extent of these rights. Researchers at CME are working on the subject and also participating in a research project funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme (bEUcitizen.eu), investigating on ways to lift these barriers and contribute to the effective realisation of Union Citizenship.