Legal Principles in EU Law as an Expression of a European Legal Culture between Unity and Diversity
TOWARDS A EUROPEAN LEGAL CULTURE, Geneviève Helleringer, Kai Purnhagen, eds., Beck, Hart, Nomos, 2013
Maastricht European Private Law Institute Working Paper No. 2012/7
21 Pages Posted: 1 May 2012 Last revised: 25 May 2012
Date Written: May 1, 2012
Various kinds of legal principles are 'en vogue' in EU law. The present contribution addresses the question of whether this phenomenon can be viewed as an expression of a 'European Legal Culture'. To this end, some well-known conceptions of the term 'legal culture' and equivalents will be briefly sketched, after which various readings of the notion of a 'European Legal Culture' will be displayed. Ultimately, the preferred conception of a 'European Legal Culture' for the purposes of this contribution will embrace three elements that will be applied and tested individually: I will, first of all, try to illustrate why legal principles reflect the ongoing trend towards anti-positivism and pragmatism. Secondly, it will be shown that many legal principles in EU law are situated between the two extreme poles of unity and diversity which, understood as a continuum, becomes part of the definition of a 'European Legal Culture' itself. Thirdly, emphasis will be placed on the substantive driving forces at the EU level that underlie the recognition of legal principles.
Keywords: legal principles, legal positivism, sources of law, unity, diversity, harmonization of laws, European Union, comparative method, legal culture, European legal culture, teleology
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