Professional language and empty phrases in the scholarship of European Union law.
A historical-critical investigation of ultimate justifications in European law

PhD Project

The language of European Union law is verbose, difficult, and imprecise. How did it come to be this way, and could we improve it?

The subject of this study is a profound change in the language of European law that occurred in the late 1950s, when lawyers and politicians argued fiercely about the concept of supranationality. At first glance, few traces of this debate remain in contemporary discussions. However, the dispute still determines how scholars talk about European Union law today. This project traces these developments in detail in order to critique their current usage. How did European jurists come to rely on highly metaphoric language such as saying that European Union law is an autonomous legal order because it ‘flows from its own source of law’? Why do we ostentatiously – and with conscious naïveté – refer to European integration as a 'community'? Last but not least: What does the phrase 'community of law' actually mean?

The project critiques methods, theories and metaphors. Its aim is to introduce the critical study of language to fundamental research on European Union law.  How can we free our thinking from the bewitchment of the language of European Union law?

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