Towards a New History of European Law

2012 Contemporary European History  
This article introduces the special issue on the new history of European law. Its intention is to provide our audience with the intellectual context that the contributions seek to address and some of the underlying conclusions from the fields of political science and legal scholarship that the archive material synthesised here will recast. Each of the individual contributions will be described and located in the new field of scholarship, and the intentions and current limitations of our
more » ... will be delineated. The European Union is the world's largest economy, home to half a billion Europeans and, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, a powerful influence on its twenty-seven member states. It is also, above all other things, a product and creator of law. The uniquely authoritative European Court of Justice (ECJ) has greatly shaped the development of European integration since the 1950s, when the integration process started out as a limited, functional effort to join six national coal and steel industries. The case law of the ECJ has been essential to the creation of something approaching a European legal order -an order that, when compared to international law, is coherent, effective and significantly more influential in the national legal systems than the law that governs a typical international organisation. National courts, in the adjudication of disputes involving citizens, firms and the member states themselves, refer thousands of cases to the ECJ for preliminary rulings each year. This is something long appreciated by legal scholars, of course, and they have later been joined in their analyses by political scientists seeking to explain how this
doi:10.1017/s0960777312000215 fatcat:53r4m4bfnne7rlsgmvzluyl6gi