Regulating the European Union's Single Market


About this course

The main objective of this course is to study the law of the EU Single Market within a changed Treaty context. This course enables the student to gain insight in the interaction between EU free movement law and fundamental rights of EU citizens. In this course the Single Market will be conceptualized as an all-embracing concept for all EU citizens rather than a purely technocratic notion. And the EU as a predominantly internal market organization is often set apart from the EU as an evolving Human Rights organization.
Recent developments in the case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) justify an innovative and cutting-edge approach to EU free movement law. Schmidberger was the first crucial case in which the ECJ was forced to balance the free movement of goods with the protection of fundamental rights (freedom of assembly and freedom of speech). Other cases where the ECJ was forced to balance free movement rights with fundamental rights soon followed, like Viking, Laval, Omega or Dynamic Medien. In cases like Zambrano and Dereci the relationship between fundamental rights and the right to free movement of EU citizens were at issue, putting the requirement to the test that EU free movement law only applies in cross-border situations as well as the principle of non-discrimination . The evolving case law triggers important questions relating to the fundamental status of the four freedoms (e.g. the importance of the non-discrimination principle), the interstate condition, the ranking of fundamental rights, the balancing approach of the ECJ through the application of the proportionality test and the role of the EU legislator seeking to reconcile conflicting rights by issuing harmonization measures.The course ‘Regulating the EU Single Market’ seeks to address these questions by thoroughly studying EU free movement law, the harmonization process and the interaction between free movement and fundamental rights. The course is taught in English and lasts 10 weeks. Students are expected to actively participate in the discussions in class, they will have to do research, write an essay, give an oral presentation in an academic setting (academic conference simulation) and do a written exam. Next to these activities, student debates will be organized within the framework of this course, allowing to discuss recent developments in the field of EU Single Market law and fundamental rights in small groups.
The course consists of the following three parts:

Part I: negative integration, concept of the EU Single Market
In this part the negative integration process through the application of the Treaty freedoms in the Court’s case law will be thoroughly analysed.
After this course the student has gained knowledge and understanding of the following issues:

  • the scope of the EU rules on free movement, also viewed from the perspective of the legality principle;

  • the horizontal application of the Treaty freedoms; potential and limits;

  • the justification grounds; the extent to which Member States and private parties can invoke justification grounds restricting free movement;

  • the tensions between EU free movement law and the safeguarding of public interests and fundamental rights, viewed from the perspective of the social market economy, a concept introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, and the stronger commitment of the EU to fundamental rights protection through Article 6 EU and the binding force of the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

  • the ‘fundamental character’ of the four freedoms; to what extent could the economic freedoms be equated with fundamental rights?

Part II: Harmonization within the context of the EU Single Market
In this part the focus is on the positive integration process. Harmonization is an instrument to bring about market integration and to attain public policy goals simultaneously, but there are also other instruments which can be used, such as soft law, which, although not binding per se, may have the effect that national laws are approximated with a view to attain a more integrated single European market.
After this course:

  • the student has gained knowledge and understanding of the concept of harmonization, the legislative process and the different instruments.
  • the student has explored the implementation of harmonization measures into the national legal order. Particularly important here is that the law of the EU Single Market should not only be studied ‘top-down’, but also ‘bottom-up’ to understand the problems related to the implementation of EU legislation.
  • the student has studied diverse national law systems in a comparative perspective, enhancing the so-called ‘T-method’.
  • the student has analysed important examples of harmonization measures. Their similarities and differences will be highlighted. Examples are the Services Directive, the Posting of Workers Directive, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the Patients’ Rights Directive, the proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation and the legislative developments in the field of privacy (non-exhaustive list).

Part III: Regulating public interests and fundamental rights within the context of the single market
In this part the extent to which in particular fundamental rights are sufficiently safeguarded within the internal market will be addressed. After this course:

  • the student has developed his/her own views on the concepts of Single Market, Harmonisation and Fundamental Rights, the legal developments and existing case law.

Place of the course within the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in the major of the master European Law

body { font-size: 9pt;

Learning outcomes

After this course:

  • the student has knowledge of contrasting academic views presented in legal literature;
  • the student has developed research skills and ability to analyse complex legal issues on the basis of legal documentation related to specific topics in the field of EU Single Market Law & Fundamental Rights;
  • the student is able to use the legal analysis with a view to present a particular point of view in a research paper on one of the topics identified by the coordinator;
  • the student is able to present the research carried out in an academic setting; an academic conference simulation will be organized by the students where a couple of students present their papers and other students comment on the papers by acting as referents/discussants;
  • the student is able to use power point presentations and videos to support the oral presentations during the academic conference simulation;
  • the student is stimulated to take part in discussions during the seminars, during the interactive lectures and during the academic conference simulation;
  • the student has developed a critical outlook on the European economic integration process by putting integration through law in a broader perspective, e.g. by looking at concepts like social market economy and principles of the rule of law, fundamental rights etc.

body { font-size: 9pt;

Good to know

You will be enrolled for this course by administration of the programme of this course.

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

  • Enrolled for a degree programme of faculty Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance
  • Completed Bachelor

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Utrecht University.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      10 November 2024
    • Term *
      Period 1
    • Location
    • Instruction language
These offerings are valid for students of TU Eindhoven