Existence and interpretation of the freedom to conduct a business


The project maps, defines and analyses what limitations people or legal entities in Europe face when conducting a business. It aims to highlight existing legislation and procedures in Member States, identify promising practices, as well as constraints in conducting business (including ‘cross-cutting’ issues such as non-discrimination and cross-border elements). It also aims to highlight links to related business aspects, such as: entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and business and human rights.


EU Member States vary in their interpretation of the freedom to conduct a business, and its various components. This project strives to paint a clearer legal picture of the freedom to conduct a business in legislation, policy and/or the case law of EU Member States.
The freedom to conduct a business, as a new right (Art. 16 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights but not an explicit right in other human rights instruments), can also be viewed from the wider perspective of EU developments. This includes the EU2020 strategy; reducing unemployment – including youth; improving integration – making better use of skills and knowledge of immigrants; and possibly even inspiring innovation – ensuring that the freedom to conduct a business is appropriately balanced with other rights, such as access to health and data protection.


The project involves three activities. 

a. Exploratory research, analysis of jurisprudence from the Court of Justice of the EU, and relevant EU policies. This stage also included stakeholder consultations. 

b. Mapping relevant legislation, policy and case law in EU Member States. 

c. Focusing on states, identified by the mapping, where significant developments and promising practices related to the freedom to conduct a business have been found.


A report based on in-house research and comparative input from FRANET, FRA’s national research network, will be published in 2015.