When: Friday, 4 November 2022 at 1:00pm - 2:00pm (UTC+3)
Where: Siltavuorenpenger 1A, Room 229, University of Helsinki. You can also join us online via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 612 7834 0253
How to write a history of the European Court of Justice?
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has played a central role in the history of European integration. From 1953 to 1993, the ECJ launched a constitutional interpretation of European law, fashioning its legal order on federal principles, despite the fact that the European Communities (EC) were based on traditional international treaties. As a result, the court became part of an alliance of the supranational institutions that attempted to promote the federalization of the EC, but ultimately failed when the European Union was negotiated and established from 1991-1993. However, the influence of the ECJ goes beyond the battle over the institutional and legal soul of the EC. The material case law of the ECJ greatly shaped the four freedoms of movement of the EC (trade, finance, service and labor), just as the court helped define the external competences of the EC and thus its foreign policy profile.
Until now the history of European law has been written from outside the ECJ. With the archive of the court closed, historians had to use the archives of the member states, the other European institutions and private papers to analyse the history of European law. As a result, the role of the ECJ has remained somewhat illusive and the inner life of the court remains virtually unknown. With the opening of the administrative archive of the ECJ this year (the judicial archive opened heavily censored due to the secrecy of the delibéré in 2016), scholars can finally get a better understanding of the life inside the court. For the first time we can write the institutional history of the court.
This talk will explore how such a history can be approached, conceptualized and written. It will address key methodological challenges, the nature of the archival source and periodization. Finally, it will attempt to situate the story in the broader history of European integration and international cooperation of the Twentieth Century.