Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa) in Sweden; Institute for Market Economics in Bulgaria (photo credit: express.co.uk); Lipa – Croatian Taxpayers Association in Croatia
Atlas Network is pleased to announce the finalists of this year’s Europe Liberty Award, part of the Regional Liberty Awards, an annual program recognizing think tanks that have made important contributions to improving the landscape for enterprise and entrepreneurship in their regions. The finalists for this year’s Europe Liberty Award are the Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa) in Sweden, Lipa – Croatian Taxpayers Association in Croatia, and the Institute for Market Economics in Bulgaria.
The Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa)
Project: Litigating for individual liberty and fundamental rights
Since being founded in 2002, the Centre for Justice in Sweden has come to the aid of small-scale entrepreneurs to protect them against undue or illegal government interference, and powerful and protectionist trade unions. By combining cutting-edge litigation, strategic research, and sophisticated media relations, the Centre for Justice is now a prime driving force in what their team describe as a Nordic individual rights revolution.
The Centre for Justice has, on behalf of its clients, won several liberty-increasing landmark cases in recent years, which have significantly improved not just the rights of individuals and small-scale entrepreneurs in Sweden, but have set legal precedents with the potential to increase the liberties of millions of individuals throughout Europe.
In one of its recent victories, Henrik Gustavsson v. the Swedish Building Worker’s Union, the Swedish Supreme Court established that, for the first time, trade unions can be held liable for financial damages caused by the excessive use of industrial action that violates small business owners’ right to property. This ruling rewrites the basic rules of the Swedish labor market and levels the playing field in industrial disputes between big trade unions and small business owners.
“Prior to the inception of the Centre for Justice, questions of fundamental rights and economic rights in the Nordic region were mainly seen as matters of general policy and not for the Courts and individuals,” the organization explained. “The Centre for Justice has been and is a prime driving force in what could be described as a Nordic individual rights revolution.”
The Centre for Justice has litigated almost 200 cases in six constitutional areas (winning 90 percent of the cases) and given aid to about 2,800 individuals.
Lipa - Croatian Taxpayers Association, Croatia
Project: Public Debt Counter
As part of its efforts to educate post-Communist Croatia and its policy makers on the long-term economic benefits of cutting taxes and better stewardship of public funds, Lipa has launched the Public Debt Counter.
With a combination of a web application, large LED displays on buildings on major squares and roads, and extensive media promotion, Lipa has brought awareness to the public debt issue, turning it into one of the main issues of the election campaign, as well as of discussion in the media and among ordinary citizens. The new treasury secretary of Croatia has also laid out more balanced budget proposal, which will cut the deficit below 3 percent of GDP.
This project attracted tremendous public interest. Its launch event was mentioned more than 90 times in the media, including on television and in newspapers. It not only brought visibility to the organization, it also confirmed the quality of its team, leading to Executive Director Davor Huić being appointed as advisor to the prime minister of Croatia.
The Public Debt Counter is being displayed 1,500 times daily, being seen by roughly 200,000 daily passers-by.
Institute for Market Economics, Bulgaria
Project: Poverty in Bulgaria
The Institute for Market Economics (IME) has launched “Poverty in Bulgaria” with the goal of changing the public discourse on poverty and income inequality in the country. IME is doing that by providing high-quality research and using an innovative approach to reach policy and opinion makers, media, students, and the general public.
The project has been successful in both changing the narrative on poverty and income inequality and affecting policies towards better education. IME has helped shift the discussion from being concentrated on social assistance and pensions to focusing on education, employment, and free enterprise.
“Our approach to poverty was almost entirely through the discussions on education and employment/entrepreneurship,” said Petar Ganev, IME senior researcher. “We wanted to shape the poverty debate as a conversation for structural reforms in education and labor markets. While there are many educational reform initiatives, there is no other that connects school reform directly to escaping poverty and prosperity.”
IME’s success can be measured by its strong engagement into the process of adoption of a new educational law in Bulgaria, which substitutes outdated legislation from the communist era. After the contribution of IME’s deep involvement in the education debate, the new legislation includes opening the voucher system to private schools, development of vocational education that connect schools with businesses, and recognition of homeschooling.