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Corporate Human Rights Protection in Light of Effective Competition Law Enforcement

Kulevska, Sophie LU (2011) JURM01 20111
Department of Law
Abstract
The aim of this thesis originates from the existing conflict of interests between the enforcement of European Union (EU) competition law and the companies’ human rights grievances. The former is concerned with the effective functioning of the European Commission’s powers to investigate companies under Articles 18 and 20 of Regulation 1/2003. The latter addresses the rights of defense of the companies under scrutiny, as provided for by Articles 6(1) and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

Articles 18 and 20 of Regulation 1/2003 provide the Commission with very wide investigative powers, namely to request information from companies and to inspect their business premises. The aim is to maintain... (More)
The aim of this thesis originates from the existing conflict of interests between the enforcement of European Union (EU) competition law and the companies’ human rights grievances. The former is concerned with the effective functioning of the European Commission’s powers to investigate companies under Articles 18 and 20 of Regulation 1/2003. The latter addresses the rights of defense of the companies under scrutiny, as provided for by Articles 6(1) and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

Articles 18 and 20 of Regulation 1/2003 provide the Commission with very wide investigative powers, namely to request information from companies and to inspect their business premises. The aim is to maintain effective competition within the EU’s Internal Market, however sometimes to the detriment of the investigated companies. The crucial question therefore is whether these companies enjoy sufficient safeguards.

Articles 6(1) and 8 ECHR constitute the relevant provisions that may be invoked as protection against the Commission’s discretionary enforcement of the EU competition rules. Although not yet directly applicable within the EU legal order, these provisions – as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) – have played a crucial role for the development of corporate human rights protection in the EU Courts’ case law. Nevertheless, this thesis illustrates that the general principles of EU law do not reach the same level of protection as that provided by the rights enshrined in the ECHR. This is particularly the case in respect of the companies’ protection against self-incrimination, where the ECtHR does provide full protection, in contrast to the EU Courts. Consequently, the investigated companies are not sufficiently protected from incriminating themselves during the Commission’s investigation procedures. The importance of ensuring the effectiveness of the EU competition law enforcement seems to prevail.

When the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights became legally binding. It may be inferred that greater legitimacy was given to the fundamental rights within the European Union legal order, however more interestingly in respect of the future human rights protection in the EU is the accession to the ECHR. An interesting question is whether that accession will pave the way for the investigated companies’ human rights grievances before the ECtHR, instead of the EU Courts. That question, besides other related issues, is being scrutinized and analyzed in this thesis. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Syftet med den här uppsatsen har sitt ursprung i den intressekonflikt som råder mellan upprätthållandet av den Europeiska unionens (EU) konkurrensregler, å ena sidan, och företagens klagomål över att deras mänskliga rättigheter kränkts, å andra sidan. Närmare bestämt handlar det om att väga effektiviteten av den Europeiska kommissionens befogenheter att undersöka företag enligt artiklarna 18 och 20 i förordning 1/2003 mot dessa företags rätt till försvar enligt artiklarna 6(1) och 8 i Europakonventionen om skydd för de mänskliga rättigheterna och de grundläggande friheterna.

Artiklarna 18 och 20 i förordning 1/2003 ger kommissionen mycket omfattande undersökningsbefogenheter, såsom att begära ut information från företag samt att... (More)
Syftet med den här uppsatsen har sitt ursprung i den intressekonflikt som råder mellan upprätthållandet av den Europeiska unionens (EU) konkurrensregler, å ena sidan, och företagens klagomål över att deras mänskliga rättigheter kränkts, å andra sidan. Närmare bestämt handlar det om att väga effektiviteten av den Europeiska kommissionens befogenheter att undersöka företag enligt artiklarna 18 och 20 i förordning 1/2003 mot dessa företags rätt till försvar enligt artiklarna 6(1) och 8 i Europakonventionen om skydd för de mänskliga rättigheterna och de grundläggande friheterna.

Artiklarna 18 och 20 i förordning 1/2003 ger kommissionen mycket omfattande undersökningsbefogenheter, såsom att begära ut information från företag samt att undersöka deras lokaler. Syftet med dessa befogenheter är att upprätthålla effektiv konkurrens på EU:s inre marknad, ibland till nackdel för de undersökta företagen. Den avgörande frågan är därför om dessa företag åtnjuter tillräckligt rättighetsskydd.

Artiklarna 6(1) och 8 i Europakonventionen utgör de tillämpliga bestämmelserna som kan åberopas som skydd mot kommissionens godtyckliga undersökningar. Även om dessa bestämmelser inte går att tillämpa direkt inom EU, har de spelat en avgörande roll för utveckligen av företagens rättighetsskydd i EU-domstolarnas rättspraxis. Likväl visar den här uppsatsen på att EU:s allmänna principer inte garanterar samma skyddsnivå som Europakonventionen. Detta är framförallt fallet beträffande företagens skydd mot att anklaga sig själva under kommissionens undersökningar. Till skillnad från Europadomstolen ger EU-domstolarna inget fullständigt skydd. Vikten av att säkerställa ett effektivt upprätthållande av EU:s konkurrensregler väger därmed tyngre än företagens mänskliga rättigheter.

När Lissabonfördraget trädde i kraft blev EU:s stadga om de grundläggande rättigheterna juridiskt bindande. Man kan därmed sluta sig till att större legitimitet gavs åt dessa rättigheter inom EU. Intressantare ur rättighetsskyddssynpunkt är dock EU:s framtida tillträde till Europakonventionen. En avgörande fråga är huruvida detta tillträde kommer att leda till att de undersökta företagen vänder sig till Europadomstolen – istället för till EU-domstolarna – när de vill klaga över att deras mänskliga rättigheter kränkts. Denna och andra närliggande frågor granskas och analyseras i förevarande uppsats. (Less)
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author
Kulevska, Sophie LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM01 20111
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
European Union Law, European Union Competition Law, International Human Rights Law, Lisbon Treaty, European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
language
English
id
1982426
date added to LUP
2011-06-27 13:52:49
date last changed
2011-06-28 16:24:22
@misc{1982426,
  abstract     = {The aim of this thesis originates from the existing conflict of interests between the enforcement of European Union (EU) competition law and the companies’ human rights grievances. The former is concerned with the effective functioning of the European Commission’s powers to investigate companies under Articles 18 and 20 of Regulation 1/2003. The latter addresses the rights of defense of the companies under scrutiny, as provided for by Articles 6(1) and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

Articles 18 and 20 of Regulation 1/2003 provide the Commission with very wide investigative powers, namely to request information from companies and to inspect their business premises. The aim is to maintain effective competition within the EU’s Internal Market, however sometimes to the detriment of the investigated companies. The crucial question therefore is whether these companies enjoy sufficient safeguards.

Articles 6(1) and 8 ECHR constitute the relevant provisions that may be invoked as protection against the Commission’s discretionary enforcement of the EU competition rules. Although not yet directly applicable within the EU legal order, these provisions – as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) – have played a crucial role for the development of corporate human rights protection in the EU Courts’ case law. Nevertheless, this thesis illustrates that the general principles of EU law do not reach the same level of protection as that provided by the rights enshrined in the ECHR. This is particularly the case in respect of the companies’ protection against self-incrimination, where the ECtHR does provide full protection, in contrast to the EU Courts. Consequently, the investigated companies are not sufficiently protected from incriminating themselves during the Commission’s investigation procedures. The importance of ensuring the effectiveness of the EU competition law enforcement seems to prevail.

When the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights became legally binding. It may be inferred that greater legitimacy was given to the fundamental rights within the European Union legal order, however more interestingly in respect of the future human rights protection in the EU is the accession to the ECHR. An interesting question is whether that accession will pave the way for the investigated companies’ human rights grievances before the ECtHR, instead of the EU Courts. That question, besides other related issues, is being scrutinized and analyzed in this thesis.},
  author       = {Kulevska, Sophie},
  keyword      = {European Union Law,European Union Competition Law,International Human Rights Law,Lisbon Treaty,European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Corporate Human Rights Protection in Light of Effective Competition Law Enforcement},
  year         = {2011},
}