‘CONSTANT - COmpetitioN and STate aid law Advanced National Training for judges’ is a 10-month project funded by the European Commission which addresses the need for more practically oriented advanced trainings of national judges in Bulgaria on topics in Competition Law.
Building on the fundamental knowledge acquired by LIBRe experts in the field of EU Competition Law, the project proposes a sustainable solution which would strengthen the capacity of Bulgarian national judges to interpret and apply the rules of EU state aid and antitrust damages actions in a coherent and consistent manner and in line with the economic rationale of the legal rules.
The project has four specific aims:
to ensure dissemination among national judges in Bulgaria of knowledge and interpretative strategies towards the rules and notions of EU state aid law, antitrust damages actions and economic fundamentals of EU Competition Law;
to develop an interactive, dynamic, content-rich online platform to enable judges to interact with each other in a familiar setting, to share experience and opinion in an open and transparent manner, and to enjoy the benefits of a ‘one-stop-shop’ platform for access to competition law resources and content;
to incentivise judges to be proactive in their learning endeavours by encouraging them to take part in the project from its early stages, thus attaining the objective of outreach to a far broader scope of judges than the projected 60 participants in the three training events; and
to encourage the use of new learning methods for training of practicing magistrates in EU Competition Law, such as serious games, simulations, mooting etc. by providing a platform for further use, incl. video presentations and live streaming functionalities.
The project is implemented within the 10/2016 - 08/2017 period.
The project provides for three training events, each with three-day duration and designed for 20 participants – national judges; as well as the development of online platform dedicated to issues in the area of competition law.
The events are followed by training proceedings summarising the presentations; thus helping the judges to interpret and apply the rules of EU state aid and antitrust damages actions in a coherent and consistent manner and in line with the economic rationale of the legal rules.
The aim of this training was to familiarise judges with the fundamental notion of state aid and its role in the competition policy in the EU, including relationship with antitrust law and free movement law, the goals and results of the State Aid Modernisation Programme, and the economic rationale of state aid.
The advanced-level training also covered the elements of the state aid prohibition in Article 107 TFEU along with the exemptions under Article 107(2), 107(3), 106(2) TFEU, and the implications of the case of Deutsche Lufthansa AG v Flughafen Frankfurt/Hahn GmbH for the separation of powers and the role of national courts in state aid.
The judges took active part in the discussions on cases from the national practice and from the practice of the European Court of Justice.
According to participants’ feedback, the strongest accents in the training were its practical approach, the case study discussions, and speakers' expertise and experience. The quality of the training materials and the overall event organisation were also positively assessed.
The private and public enforcement of EU Competition Law were presented in the context of actions for damages under national law for infringements of competition law provisions of Member States and of the EU.
Key topics discussed throughout the training included:
Directive 2014/104/EU on Antitrust Damages Actions;
The role of the European Commission’s Practical Guide on the Quantification of Antitrust Harm for the National Judge;
economics rationale of the different methods and techniques under the Practical Guide on the Quantification of Antitrust Harm for the National Judge;
interplay between public and private enforcement of EU Competition Law;
parallel and subsequent proceeding in the enforcement of EU Competition Law;
jurisdiction and applicable law matters in the enforcement of EU Competition Law, etc.
The judges also actively engaged in discussions on cases from the national practice and from the practice of the European Court of Justice.
The practical approach towards the topic and the case study discussions were acknowledged as the strongest aspects of the training. Positive comments were received also on the overall coordination of the event and the online platform of the project
The training was triggered by the paramount importance of sufficient understanding of the economic principles of competition law by national judges.
Strongly focused on practical examples and direct application of the acquired knowledge, the activities covered basic introduction into the economics of competition policy (including basic economic notions) and differences with the economic regulation in some specific sectors, such as media and telecoms industries.
The activities then focused on selected cases on economics of horizontal restrictions, abuse of dominance, and vertical restrictions.
To keep judges abreast of the latest developments, a bundle of hot topics was presented.
After the completion of the project trainings, each of the lectures presented during the trainings will be included in a specially designed report on training events proceedings which aims to help the judges to interpret and apply the rules of EU state aid and antitrust damages actions in a coherent and consistent manner and in line with the economic rationale of the legal rules. The report will contain references to all cases and proceedings discussed throughout the training events.
Online Competition Law Platform
As a part of project CONSTANT, an interactive and dynamic online platform with rich content which would allow national judges to share information in familiar environment, express and share their experience and opinion in an open and transparent manner, and benefit from the advantages of a single platform for resources and content in the field of competition law. Furthermore, through this platform judges could find detail information on the training events and will be able to apply for participation.
LIBRe Foundation is a Bulgarian not-for-profit non-governmental organisation established in 2015 with the mission to contribute to the national digital policies and to facilitate the technology penetration in the professional and personal life.
The organisation works in the fields of digital society and digital rights, information management, intellectual property rights in an online environment, privacy and security, e-government, and e-justice. Our activities include research on information technologies, organisational behaviour and law, as well as development of interactive solutions and communication strategies, organisation of awareness campaigns on key issues in our competence areas, publishing, and training.