Sustainability and Competition

Pazmany Summer School

June 27 - July 14, 2022

There are tensions between sustainability goals, including the protection of the environment, and the goals of mainstream competition policy focusing on efficiency, price competition and consumer welfare. At some point, growth and increase of output stimulated by cheap products can endanger sustainable development. Reconciling sustainability and competition goals, as required by various provisions in the European Union’s constitutional treaties, and also by the social teaching of the Catholic Church, poses challenges we would like to explore from various perspectives.

Our lecturers will guide students to explore the moral side of business activities, to what extent companies and consumer choices may harm, or to the contrary, help protect the environment and human dignity. Law professors from various countries will discuss whether co-operations between competitors, or mergers promoting sustainability should be allowed under competition rules. Students will also understand how the EU authorises state aid to increase the protection of our environment even if it may distort competition. Finally, participants will discuss topical issues related to the prohibition of unsubstantiated green marketing claims.

Sustainable competition, helping both businesses and consumers to thrive at the same time protecting the Earth which was given to us, raises important issues of a truly global magnitude. To make the best of this three-week study program, we will invite students and lecturers representing various continents and different cultures. The moral content of the study program will be anchored to the moral and social teaching of the Catholic Church, we believe that persons affiliated with other religions, or anyone with good intentions but without firm religious beliefs will benefit from these courses.

This is a truly multidisciplinary program, hence we do not lay down any specific restrictions as to who exactly can apply. Since most of the lecturers and students come from law schools, the Pazmany summer School is ideal for undergraduate and postgraduate law students who have a basic knowledge of legal institutions, concepts and some basic knowledge of economics. We can also accommodate a few students with business or management school background.

There will be three courses during the program concluding with examination and covering about one week each:

  • Policy goals and moral issues – mainstream and other potential goals of competition law, the essence of sustainability goals and the social teaching of the Catholic Church.
  • Sustainability and antitrust – agreements between competitors, decisions of associations restricting competition, but promoting sustainability, sustainability as a defence in dominance and merger cases.
  • Sustainability and state aid as well as misleading advertisement – EU state aid rules promoting the environment, “green washing” and other unfair commercial practices misleading consumers and distorting fair competition.

Lectures will be held in the morning hours, i.e. from 9 am till 1 pm. Fridays, except for the first one, will be devoted to preparations and exams. We will organise about four lunch time lectures where students can meet experts representing law enforcers, business and academia discussing a dedicated topic.

The afternoons and evenings are dedicated to study, preparation for classes, consultations and, of course, social and sporting activities.

We hope that Covid pandemia related restrictions will not hinder the organization of the summer school program at the premises of the university. Yet, we recommend that you buy your airplane tickets and reserve accommodation as close to the beginning of the program as possible. The organizers of the program reserve the right to move the even to an online platform if restrictions would not allow the organisation of on-site classes.

The program will include free social events (i.e. visiting the Parliament, the Hungarian Competition Authority and the Ombudsman Office). We will also organize some sporting activities (soccer, basketball, badminton).

Students successfully completing the program will be awarded a diploma issued by the Law Faculty of the Pazmany Peter Catholic University. It is up to the decision of the students’ host institution whether they acknowledge this diploma with credits.

Faculty: (TBC)

  • Jeronimo Mailio Gonzalez-Orus (CEU Madrid, Spain)
  • Wouter Devroe (dean and professor of competition law, KUL, Belgium)
  • Juan Eduardo Ibanez (Chile)
  • Gyula Bándi (Pazmany, Hungary and ombudsman for future generations)
  • Ildikó Köcse (Hungarian Competition Authority)
  • Tihamér Tóth (Pazmany, Hungary and lawyer at Dentons)
  • Pál Szilágyi (Pazmany, Hungary, director of the Competition Law Research Center)

Lunch time lecturers (TBC)

  • Csaba Rigó (president of the GVH, the Hungarian Competition Authority)
  • Maurice Stucke (University of Tennessee, U.S.)
  • Amelia Miazad (Berkeley Law, U.S.)
  • János Zlinszky (Pázmány, Hungary)
  • company representative

Download the syllabus


1st week: June 27- July 1, 2022

Introduction to Corporate Sustainability (ESG) – Prof. Ibanez

  • Complex society & typology of risk
  • What is the purpose of the corporation?
  • Due diligence and materiality assessment. OCDE and SASB Standards. 
  • Business and Human Rights. The UN Guiding Principles
  • Group of interest and stakeholder capitalism. 
  • Ethics & integrity as a cultural issue for the corporation 
  • Latin American situation regarding ESG, politics and the role of business.

Sustainable development – general – Prof. Bándi

  • Sustainable development – an introduction from UNCED to SDGs
  • Sustainable development law
  • Integration as a legal method of implementation
  • Resilience as a way to SD

Voluntary instruments of companies – Prof. Bándi

Within the legal framework:

  • Voluntary agreements: regulatory agreements, compliance schedule/contract of public administration, Standardization, Codes of conduct, Mediation
  • Environmental management (e.g. EMAS)
  • Auditing and reporting
  • Eco-label

Beyond law:

  • Environmental management
  • CSR 

ESG, Laudato si and social teaching of the Catholic Church – Prof. Ibanez

  • The common Good.
  • The role of business. Purpose.  
  • The value of human rights. Due Diligence.
  • The role of free markets. Ethics.

EU competition law and non-economic interests – Prof. Devroe

  • Goals of EU competition law, compared to “hipster antitrust” in the US
  • Non-economic interests as exemption grounds?
  • Abuse of relative dominance
  • EU competition law and industrial policy (FDI, State aid by third countries)
  • Article 106 TFEU: exclusive rights and public services
  • The interplay between EU competition law and EU internal market law

2nd week: July 4 - July 7, 2022

Green business cooperations under Article 101 TFEU: exploring possibilities for enhancing environmental considerations. – Prof. Gonzalez-Orus

  • The scope of Article 101 – anti-compeitive agreements
  • Competititon authorities and the their use of possibilities to prioritize
  • An  exclusion route or how to exclude green cooperation out from 101 (1)
  • The exemption route: re-interpreting and adjusting 101 (3)
  • Managing the different options

Article 102 and merger control – Dr. Szilágyi

  • Market power and competition law
  • The notion of dominance, definition of the relevant market
  • Different types of abuses – can sustainability invoked as a justification?
  • The key concepts of merger control
  • Analysing mergers: competition law aspects and beyond

3rd week: July 11 - July 14, 2022

Unfair commercial practices and sustainability – Ms. Köcse

  • The regulatory concept of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD)
  • The structure of the UCPD
  • Green washing and other sustainability related misleading claims
  • Industry specific examples: cars, food, cosmetics, retail, etc.

Sustainability and state aid control in the EU – Prof. Tóth

  • The key concepts of state aid control in the EU
  • Procedural issues of state aid law
  • Compatible state aid, block exemption regulation
  • State aid measures supporting a sustainable economy