Bergen Centre for Competition Law and Economics opened
The Bergen Centre for Competition Law and Economics opened in 2011. Legal scholars and economists from the University of Bergen (UiB) and the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) have worked together in a unique research collaboration on competition policy.
Professor Lars Sørgard is one of the prime movers and NHH Professor Mette H. Bjørndal is chair of the board of this unique research centre.
'There has always been close contact between NHH and the Norwegian Competition Authority. Einar Hope was Director General of the Norwegian Competition Authority and Lars Sørgard was the Authority's first chief economist in Bergen. NHH has a strong influence on the Norwegian Competition Authority. The collaboration between NHH and UiB can be further developed, and we are therefore very pleased that this centre is now being opened. This will revitalise the academic environment,' said Mette Bjørndal, Vice Rector at NHH.
In September, researchers and representatives of the managements of NHH and UiB, Director General of the Norwegian Competition Authority Christine B Meyer and several experts from the Norwegian Competition Authority were gathered to participate in a seminar and the opening of Bergen Centre for Competition Law and Economics. The objective of Bergen Centre for Competition Law and Economics (BECCLE) is to gather researchers and doctoral students at NHH and UiB under one roof.
'We have close contact with the academic environments, and it is very important to us that this centre was established,' Christine Meyer said at the opening. In spring 2011, the boards of NHH and UiB decided that a centre for competition policy was to be established as a collaboration between the two academic institutions. The centre is financed by NHH, UiB and external funds, and the government has allocated half a million kroner to support the establishment of the centre. Professor Tommy Staahl Gabrielsen of the Department of Economics at UiB is the head of the new centre.
Law and economics
'Two former chief economists at the Competition Authority (professors Sørgard and Gabrielsen, editor's note) are working at the centre, which I'm very pleased about,' said Meyer.
'Not everybody realises this, but keeping distance is actually very important,' said Dean Asbjørn Strandbakken. Law professor Strandbakken argued that moving the Norwegian Competition Authority out of Oslo has led to less 'intermingling' in Oslo.
'Collaboration between the fields of law and economics is vital. What does law contribute? Competition law is a priority area, something that is laid down in our strategy. My vision for this centre is that, while it is based on an agreement that will last for five years, if we look further ahead, there is a clear need for this centre beyond this five-year period,' said Strandbakken.
Positions outside the academic community
Professor Knut Helland, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, commented in his speech that it is very important that researchers also take on positions outside the academic community, and that this can have a very positive effect on research, as in the case of Bergen Centre for Competition Law and Economics, where the former chief economists Sørgard and Gabrielsen are prime movers.
The basis for establishing Bergen Centre for Competition Law and Economics was a desire to give a boost to the competition law and economics discipline both in the Bergen region and in Norway in general. The centre means that the competition policy community will have more than one leg to stand on, thereby ensuring a stable resource base that both the research community and the Norwegian Competition Authority can draw on.
'We wanted to create an arena for researchers in economy and competition law,' says Sørgard, who is on a sabbatical year and will therefore work at the centre.