From the Rome Treaties to Future EU Law: Kick-off Conference of New Research Field

June 29, 2017

Though currently maneuvering through troubled waters, the European Union celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome of 1957. On this occasion, a conference with great potential for future cross-disciplinary and international research cooperation took place at the Frankfurt Max Planck Institute for European Legal History on 22nd and 23rd June 2017. Organized by the MPI’s newly established research field ‘Legal History of the European Union’ and entitled ‘Treaties as travaux préparatoires‘, the event convened in an unprecedented fashion practitioners and scholars such as EU and international lawyers, constitutional and European judges as well as professors of Law, History and Political Sciences from across Europe, North America and Asia.

Traditional legal-historical accounts of the treaties’ preparatory works either claim that the travaux should not matter in the interpretation of the treaties, or they hold that the travaux are key to a clear understanding of the contracting parties’ intentions. The conference aimed at refining the traditional positions by taking a fresh look at the treaties’ negotiations and their historical postwar context as well as the longue durée dimension of legal and integration history. Conference panels in particular dealt with key areas of law and policy (e.g. Social Policy and CAP), and with the longue durée legal history as a source of inspiration for key actors such as Walter Hallstein and Pierre Pescatore. In a second step, the conference intended to situate the negotiations of the Rome Treaties in the wider context of international law and the history of federalism. Against this background, the conference challenged in a third step established doctrines and orthodox positions of EU law. In the concluding section, speakers discussed the current state and future possibilities of interpreting EU law, taking into account the perspectives of the European Court of Justice and member-state constitutional courts.

It is hoped that the proceedings of the conference will be published in due course.

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