On Thursday 15 June 2023, the EFTA Court held its annual Spring Conference on themes in economic law and the EEA and criminal law, at the Novotel Luxembourg Kirchberg.
The conference was attended by more than 130 participants, including President and Members of EFTA States’ supreme courts, the President and judges of the European Court of Human Rights, judges and advocates generals of the European Court of Justice, judges of the General Court, ambassadors, civil servants, practitioners, and academics. The conference was also streamed via the EFTA Court´s website.
Following President Páll Hreinsson’s welcome speech, the keynote speaker Professor Joseph Weiler gave his keynote address titled “Is the Church of European Integration facing a Reformation” on the evolution and challenges of European legal integration. His address was received with great enthusiasm by the audience and was followed by questions, comments and interesting dialogue between Professor Weiler and the conference guests.
The morning session, moderated by Lorna Armati, a member of the legal service of the European Commission, focused on “Themes in economic law”. Professor Vassilis Hatzopoulos started the session by introducing his conceptions on “Different Shades of Grey: The concept of “Economic” and the outer boundaries of EU law”. He addressed the question on how boundaries are drawn between economic and non-economic activities in a single market, concluding with some thoughts on internal and external factors affecting the distinction between the two concepts. Following this, Judge Suzanne Kingston spoke about the developments in abuse of dominance before the Union Courts and the EFTA Court and the fact that the number of cases concerning abuse of dominance has significantly increased in the last few years. Both presentations were followed by questions and comments by the audience.
The afternoon session, moderated by Hanna Faksvåg, a Legal Secretary at the EFTA Court, concentrated on the EEA and criminal law. The opening speech was given by Gjermund Mathisen, Partner at Kvale Law Firm (Oslo), discussing the troubled relationship between EEA law and criminal law. This was followed by a talk on more specific aspects of this relationship by Professor Andri Fannar Bergþórsson, addressing the question “Can real transactions constitute market manipulation? – The EFTA Court´s judgment in the Beerenberg case” and how real transactions can constitute market manipulation.
The concluding address of the conference was given by Professor Federico Fabbrini on “The War in Ukraine and the future of Europe” where he addressed how the war in Ukraine poses new challenges to European cooperation and integration and has led to both advances and setbacks for European integration.
The speeches of all speakers were followed by conference participants having the opportunity to ask questions related to the issues addressed in the speech and to engage in discussion with the speakers of the afternoon session. This prompted very lively and interesting debate and discussion on issues concerning the development and the future of European integration and the EEA.
President Hreinsson closed the conference by thanking the speakers for their important contribution and the participants for their stimulating questions and comments. The conference was followed by a reception.