Silvia, Stephen J. and Beers Sampson, Aaron. (2003) Acquis Communautaire and European Exceptionalism: A Geneaology. ACES Working Paper 2003.1, July 2003. [Working Paper]
This paper examines the genealogy of the acquis communautaire of the European Union (EU). Acquis communautaire is a phrase that defies easy translation into English. At times it has been rendered simply as “Community patrimony.” Academics have tended to leave it untranslated, but to describe it in greater detail. For example, Philippe Schmitter defined acquis communautaire as “the sum total of obligations that have accumulated since the founding of the [European Coal and Steel Community] and are embedded in innumerable treaties and protocols.” Roger Goebel is perhaps best at capturing the “settled” quality of the acquis, if one may borrow that term from jurisprudence. He states that the “acquis communautaire essentially conveys the idea that the institutional structure, scope, policies and rules of the Community (now Union) are to be treated as ‘given’ (‘acquis’), not to be called into question or substantially modified by new states at the time they enter. This paper has three parts. Part one discusses the conceptualization of the “standard of civilization.” It shows that the “standard of civilization” took three forms in European politics before the Second World War: a legal doctrine, a device to sort regimes and peoples, and a hegemonic ideal. Part two investigates the demise of the “standard of civilization” and the impact of this collapse on European identity during the mid-twentieth century. It suggests that the acquis communautaire represents a reconfigured retrieval the “standard of civilization.” Part three delves into the usage of the acquis communautaire in the postwar project of European integration.
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