CENTENOL is a national and international cooperative venture, based around a research hub located at the University of Bergen’s Faculty of Law.

EU Court. Luxembourg.
CENTENOL´s managers: Christian Franklin, Melanie Hack, Ingrid Barlund and Halvard Fredriksen Haukeland.
Kim E. Andreassen

Main content

Why is the law of the European Economic Area (EEA), which binds Norway to the EU’s internal market, so difficult for Norwegian lawyers to understand? And how can those responsible for making and applying Norwegian law better adapt to the obligations flowing from EEA law? These are the main challenges to be addressed by the work carried out at the Centre on the Europeanisation of Norwegian Law (CENTENOL).  

The interdisciplinary law-in-context research conducted at CENTENOL will be channeled through four interconnected work packages, focusing on how the free movement rights under EEA law impact on Norwegian social security, immigration, labour law, and public administrative law more generally. The main goal of CENTENOL is to strengthen legal research and teaching by raising awareness of the potential and actual effects that EEA law and methodology has in these fields, thereby ensuring that all stakeholders – Norwegian lawyers, law students, judges, academics, local and national lawmakers and the public administration – are better equipped to deal with such issues in the future. 

CENTENOL is a national and international cooperative venture, based around a research hub located at the University of Bergen’s Faculty of Law. The research carried out at CENTENOL will develop new knowledge beyond existing national and international legal research on EEA law and its impact on Norwegian law, particularly through its use of social scientific and international comparative perspectives. The research findings will further contribute to informing and developing legal education in Norway, providing significant advancements beneficial to all legal educational providers in Norway, thereby contributing to a truly national lift.  

Through its combined research and teaching activities, active engagement of project stakeholders and open and public dissemination of its findings, CENTENOL will play a key role in national competence-building on the Europeanisation of Norwegian law.  

Work Package 1: Europeanization of Norwegian Social Security law

The first theme that CENTENOL’s research will focus on concerns the interaction between EEA and Norwegian law in the field of social security law. 

Social security law is an area where the interaction between EEA and Norwegian law is particularly complex, and research into these complexities will be both valuable in itself and as material for the analysis of CENTENOL’s overarching research into the Europeanization of Norwegian law. Regulation No 883/2004 on social security law is only meant to coordinate (not harmonise) the existing social security law of the 30 EEA states, something which gives rise to a complex relationship with the general principles of free movement of persons under EEA law. Furthermore, the fact that the EEA rules in this field are given in the form of Regulations, with the resulting obligation on the Norwegian legislator to implement them “as such” (Art. 7 EEA), makes social security law a fruitful source for examples of more general interest. The trend in EEA-relevant EU law is decisively towards using Regulations as the preferred legislative act, and the EEA-specific consequences of this for Norwegian authorities has thus far not received the attention it deserves. 

CENTENOL’s research on the Europeanization of Norwegian Social Security law will contribute to deepening the emerging research environment in this field, whilst also broadening it to secure a plurality of researchers and perspectives on the impact of EEA law within this field.  

The specific nature of this field of law makes it apt for a comparative analyses, which will be undertaken with our international partners in Iceland and Liechtenstein. Comparisons with these two countries will bring different perspectives to the table – whilst the Icelandic and Norwegian legal systems, cultures and approaches to social security issues share many of the same Nordic characteristics, Liechtenstein is a civil law system strongly influenced by German, Austrian and Swiss law, and with a monistic approach to the relationship between national and international law.  

Emphasis will be placed on examining the relationship between the general right to free movement under EEA law and the coordination of national law under the 2004 Social Security Regulation, on the relationship between the Regulation and the 2004 Citizenship Directive, on the problems caused by the fact that the current Norwegian National Insurance Act is structured differently than the Regulation (so that one benefit under the Act might include several different benefits from the perspective of the Regulation), and more generally on the “EEA compatibility” of the Act. Case-studies will include benefits not already covered by the ongoing projects, with benefits in kind and pensions as two of the candidates. This will be complemented with social science studies of how relevant actors perceive their national “room of manouevre” – which include both their wriggle-room and autonomy (see above). As specified above, this research will be conducted by way of surveys and interviews of relevant government officials. 

Project participants:  

  • Halvard Haukeland Fredriksen – Manager  
  • Margret Einarsdottir 
  • Georges Baur 
  • Linda Midtun 
  • Jarle Trodal 
  • Anne Elisabeth Stie 


Work Package 2: Immigration law  

The second theme that CENTENOL’s research will focus on concerns the relationship between EU and EEA free movement rules and national immigration laws and practice.  

The concept of and rules related to EU Citizenship continue to dominate the political and judicial agendas in both the EEA/EFTA institutions and in Norway today. The EEA Agreement is an international agreement primarily designed to foster economic cooperation. Yet developments under EU law, borne mainly of the extension of free movement rights to all (including non-economically active) EU citizens, pose significant challenges to this perception.  

Led by both the ESA and EFTA Court, national authorities in the EEA EFTA States are placed under increasing scrutiny and calls to adapt national immigration rules and practices to conform to standards not formally required by the terms of the Main Part of the EEA Agreement itself. The main reason for this being the decision to add the 2004 Citizenship Directive to the EEA Agreement.     

The overarching question framing the research under this theme is whether – and if so how, and on what legal basis – EEA law may require particularly Norwegian national immigration law to adapt to legal and political standards flowing from EU Citizenship?  

This question raises a broad range of more specific issues on how EU/EEA free movement rights impact on Norwegian immigration law and practice, several of which have been touched upon at EU/EEA/EFTA level – including the conditions and requirements relating for example to family reunification of third country nationals, the “genuine stay” requirement, deportation and/or return bans for EEA nationals who have committed criminal offences, abuse of rights of free movement (marriages of convenience etc.) and health insurance during stays in EFTA States.  

Most such questions remain largely unresolved at national level by the courts today. Legal academic contributions have been largely limited to specific EEA law impacts of the development of citizenship with little regard for how this affects national law in the EU/EEA states. Empirical and statistical data also seems sorely lacking on exactly how current national administrative practices facilitate free movement of EEA nationals to the EFTA States. The inter-disciplinary research conducted at CENTENOL will look to bridge these knowledge gaps to a considerable extent through its contributions and activities. 

Project participants:  

  • Christian Franklin – Manager  
  • Christian Frommelt 
  • Gunne Thor Petursson 
  • Anne Elisabeth Stie 
  • Jarle Trondal 

Work Package 3: Labour law  

The focus of the third theme is on analysing the recent revival of the EU's social acquis and its role for EU/EEA labour law in a cross-border dimension. Special attention will be given to the impact and role of the European Pillar of Social Rights its relation to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Charter of Social Rights of the Council of Europe. Related to this is the question of how to solve tensions between economic and social rights, which has been on the agenda of legal researchers for a while. In recent years, the EU legislature (the Council and the European Parliament), the European Commission and a number of EU agencies have been rather active in the balancing of free movement and the protection of social rights. A result is a growing number of EU legislative acts – primarily directives – which are then supplemented by an even faster-growing volume of soft-law instruments. The complexity of the legal situation is enhanced by the fact that the various directives are not always well-adjusted to each other, or to the existing case law of the CJEU on the right to free movement and social rights. These developments, and their impact on Norwegian labour law, have hitherto not been given enough attention by legal researchers in Norway. 

In line with CENTENOL’s overarching ambitions, the aim of the third theme, therefore, is to map out and analyse EEA free movement law in light of the Social Pillar of the EU, with a view to clarifying its potential and actual impact upon Norwegian labour law. The aim is not only to clarify the legal obligations to the benefit of practitioners in the field but also to develop concrete proposals for how the national legislature can better handle the impact of EEA free movement law on Norwegian labour law. 

Furthermore, the third theme will complement research under the Life and Work in Balance: Legal responses to working life in times of change and crisis (LaW-BALANCE) project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council (NRC). Synergies are particularly to be expected with regard to the cross-border dimension of remote-work, which is to be analysed under LaW-BALANCE. The rise of remote-work gives entails specific problems in cross-border situations, not least as regards the social security implications of such work (thereby also linking with theme 1). 

Project participants:  

  • Melanie Hack – Manager
  • Gunnar Thor Petursson 
  • George Baur 

Work Package 4: Europeanisation of Norwegian Law

CENTENOL’s research on the implementation and impact of EEA free movement law in the fields of Norwe-gian social security, immigration and labour law will generate new knowledge of both practical importand theoretical interest related to these particular areas of the law. Additionally, however, it will also raise many issues concerning the interaction between EEA and Norwegian law more generally –issues relevant to any field of Norwegian (public) law affected in some way or other by EEA law.

In order to ensure that such universal legal issues are adequately identified and addressed, for the benefit of lawyers and academ-ics working in any area of Norwegian public administrative law affected by EEA law, CENTENOL will there-fore pursue a fourth Work Package focusing more generally on theEuropeanisationof Norwegian adminis-trative law, building on the work done under WP1-3.Whereas the three first packages provide more of a rights perspective of persons moving within the internal market, WP4 thus provides a broader systemic perspective, drawing on the findings of WP1-3.

  • Associate Professor Ingrid Barlund - Manager
  • Professor Halvard Haukeland Fredriksen
  • Professor Christian Franklin
  • Associate Professor Melanie Regine Hack
  • Associate Professor Ola Johan Settem (UiS)
  • Professor Jarle Trondal (UiA)
  • Associate Professor Anne Elisabeth Stie (UiA)
  • Dr. Christian Frommelt (Li)
  • Dr. Georges Baur (Li)
  • Professor Gunnar Thor Petursson (RU)
  • Professor Margret Einarsdottir (RU)