Unique research centre

Early this month a centre of competition policy research was opened in Bergen as a joint venture between UiB and NHH. The centre is close to unique in Norway.

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Earlier this month the Bergen Center for Competition Law and Economics (BECCLE) was opened. The centre will be one of a few in Europe where lawyers and economists can meet to investigate. Also, the centre attracts researchers from both the University of Bergen (UiB) and the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

– There are not many such meeting points between lawyers and economists in Norway, or even in the rest of Europe, professor of economics at UiB and general manager of the centre Tommy Ståhl Gabrielsen says.

Fertile coupling of research

He believes that a mix of lawyers and economists is essential for fertile research on competition policy.

– Competition policy rests on two legs: law and economics. Without the two disciplines overlapping it is hard to get a full understanding of competition policy, Ståhl Gabrielsen argues.

With around 30 researchers associated to it, the centre will be a resource for Konkurransetilsynet (the Norwegian Competition Authority), which is based in Bergen, as well as educational institutions.

– One of the reasons for moving Konkurransetilsynet to Bergen was the large and excellent academic environment here. I believe BECCLE will promote and strengthen the academic environment in Bergen, Ståhl Gabrielsen says.

Lots of goodwill

Ståhl Gabrielsen was previously chief economist at Konkurransetilsynet and is in no doubt that Norway needs more research on competition policy.

– All market economies need effective competition policy. Research on competition policy is good for business and good for consumers, he argues.

Efforts to establish BECCLE began in the spring of 2010 and were quickly adopted by the boards of UiB and NHH in the spring of 2011.

– We have encountered few obstacles and only had positive attitudes towards the centre, both from UiB, NHH, Konkurransetilsynet and the Ministry. The centre clearly meets a need for more research on competition policy, Ståhl Gabrielsen says.

Ståhl Gabrielsen is the general manager of the centre’s management team. Tore Lunde from the UiB’s Faculty of Law and Lars Sørgård from NHH will also be on the executive team.