Schepel, Harm and Chalmers, Damian. (2004) Law and European Integration: Socio-Legal Perspectives. [Review Essay]
[Introduction]. European Union Legal Integration has been the subject of a rich, interdisciplinary literature. Studies on the powers of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the dynamics of preliminary rulings, on the constitutionalization of the Treaties, and the reach of EU law into national legal systems, abound. Scholars have theorized that the ECJ and EU law have been a driving force of integration, perhaps the driving force in times of eurosclerosis as suggested by Cassis de Dijon and other famous rulings. It is all the more surprising then that we know little about the professions that partake in the process, the judges, jurists and lawyers that are implicated. We now have many studies on the Commission or the Parliament and on Brussels interest groups. EU policy studies tend to focus on actors within these institutions, only mentioning in passing the relevant jurisprudence in their area. Legal expertise is often seen as key in pushing policy agendas yet it is taken for granted rather than analysed. Yet, if EU law is so important in the history of European integration, a promising research agenda would be to take EU legal studies and EU lawyers as an object of study. How has the EU changed the teaching of law in member states’ universities? What is its reach in the various sub-disciplines of the field? Is a European doctrine emerging? What is the trajectory of those that specialize in EU law? What is the ECJ judges’ vision of the role of the law? These are among the questions that a sociology of EU law could answer. As EUSA brings together many disciplines including legal scholars and other social sciences, this issue should be of interest to most of us. To help develop a sociology of EU law, this forum brings together two legal scholars that reflect on the ways that the community of EU lawyers conceives EU law. The lively debate between Harm Schepel and Damian Chalmers suggests that there is a plurality of position in the legal field as to the role of EU law and its relationship to European society, politics and economics.
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