A 'Selfie' from Luxembourg: The Court of Justice and the Fabrication of the Pre-Accession Case-Law Dossiers
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 40
29 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2016 Last revised: 12 Apr 2017
Date Written: January 19, 2016
How does the European Court of Justice view itself? Which cases does it regard as most important? The question has riddled EU scholarship for decades. Due to a basic lack of empirical evidence, which is in part a consequence of secrecy surrounding the Court, no empirically firm answer has been provided. In this article we seek to close this gap in scholarship by using a unique data-set, compiled by the Court. We use a set of quantitative and qualitative methods to unpack the so-called historic case-law dossiers assembled by the Court, and presented to thirteen member states upon accessions in 2004, 2007 and 2013. We reconstruct the content of the selection as well as the rather specific legal EU that they project. From our empirical analysis, framed by social science theories on the relationship between knowledge and power, it follows that this was not a neutral compilation of what EU law is. On the contrary, the Court seized the opportunity to highlight its own role in the formation of the EU legal order. At the receiving end, the importance of the dossier was not in the detailed legal knowledge to facilitate the transition to the EU, but primarily the institutional knowledge on who were the real masters of the Treaties.
Keywords: Court of Justice of the EU, historic case-law, citation network analysis, judicial self-portrait, constitutionalization
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