Legal History of the European Union

Legal History of the European Union

Research Field

EU law, which is to say the law of the European Union, is very much a contemporary phenomenon. As such, it is subject to scrutiny by EU lawyers, political scientists, sociologists and others. Yet, more than 60 years after the Treaty of Paris, EU law has accrued a substantial history that has so far escaped the attention of legal historians. This Research Field aims to fill this gap and analyse legal developments in EU law, sometimes reaching back to earlier developments and thus putting the legal history of European integration in a longue durée context.

The history of EU law has a strong comparative dimension. On the one hand, national models were a source of inspiration for many, if not most, rules and principles of EU law, as well as for the institutions and legislative techniques of the EU. On the other hand, EU law, once enacted, takes on very different forms after it has been implemented and embedded in the legal environments of 28 different Member States. A strong focus of this Research Field is also on key actors in the process of the legal history of integration, such as politicians, officials, judges, again at the levels of both the EU and its Member States.

An essential part of the work in this Research Field is dedicated to identifying and collecting sources. We employ innovative methodologies, including oral history projects, digitisation and making private archives accessible. In doing so, we collaborate with European institutions and the Historical Archives of the EU in Florence.


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