The course introduces students to the role of the EU and the functions of its individual institutions. Covered issues include the fundamental principles governing the functioning of the EU such as subsidiarity, proportionality and non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality. Also presented are the principles of EU law overall with relation to the national legal systems of EU Member States (direct effect and the primacy/supremacy of EU law). These are followed by an outline of the special characteristics of different EU law instruments (EU Treaties, Regulations, Directives, Decisions) including their specific addresses and manner of their public enforcement. Assessed next is the scope, purpose and impact of the Law of the Internal market.
The four basic freedoms of the Internal market are considered first. They are followed by the role of the basic prohibition of State Aid distorting competition in the Internal Market and the recent evolution of its application in light of the financial crisis. Special ‘protection’ given to Services of General Economic Interest (ie public services such as health and education) is discussed next. The purpose, scope and applicability of EU Competition law is presented next, considering in particular the similarities and differences between EU Competition Law and national rules. Emphasis will be placed on identifying the types of practices covered by EU Competition law: (the unconditional prohibition of) the abuse of dominance, (conditional prohibition of) anticompetitive multilateral practices and (pre-emptive control of) mergers and acquisitions with EU dimensions.
Emphasis will be placed on explaining basic concepts underpinning the application and public enforcement of EU Competition law such as the relevant market definition (as the essential concept for the establishment of market power and the evaluation of the resulting market practices) and on the advantages and disadvantages of enforcement instruments of a negotiated nature (commitments decisions, conditional merger approvals) and traditional repressive enforcement tools (infringement decisions and merger prohibitions).