From the onset, competition law has formed one of the main driving forces behind market integration in the European Union. Knowledge of the EU competition rules and their development is key in understanding important aspects of the ongoing process of European integration. The course provides an introduction to the competition rules and their implementation, and considers competition law in its wider socio-economic context.
The course provides a broad overview of EU competition law and policy. The students are systematically introduced to the constituent competition and state aid rules and the key economic and legal concepts involved in their application: the definition of the relevant market, horizontal and vertical agreements, dominance, abuse, and exclusive rights. The system of enforcement of EU and national competition law is examined in some detail, whereby particular attention is given to questions of fundamental principles of EU law, such as trial and double jeopardy in competition proceedings.
The course then turns to the wider debate on the future direction of economic integration in the EU and it’s implication for competition matters. As we will see, competition law revolves around a particular notion of how markets work, and what they will bring if they function properly. This “foundational model” is however increasingly challenged by the present economic crisis, and by issues such as the depletion of scarce resources, and the environmental cost of economic growth. There are many questions and issues to be considered here. Do environmental, social, and other considerations have a place in EU competition law and policy? What are the stated aims of competition law and policy in the EU, and how do these relate to the widespread criticism of capitalism and economic governance in the EU that we are presently witnessing?