The Transformation of Europe in US Legal Academia and Its Legacy in the Field of Private Law
The Transformation of Europe: Twenty-Five Years On. M. Maduro and M. Wind, eds. Cambridge University Press 2017.
9 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2018
Date Written: January 1, 2013
The rise of EU law in US legal scholarship – from international lawyers' pet project to new fuel for comparative constitutional scholarship, and then on to self-contained subject matter with an independent raison d'être – is closely tied to the professional itinerary of Joseph Weiler. Under the auspices of Eric Stein and Peter Hay, EEC law developed as a discipline at the University of Michigan, and the collaboration between US legal academia and the European University Institute (EUI) grew in quality and intensity. The year 1984 saw the birth of a massive research project sponsored by the EUI and the Ford Foundation, named “Integration through Law.” According to the vision of senior coauthor Mauro Cappelletti, the project was to map the budding European legal integration onto the lessons of a mature American federalism. The blueprint of the project had a one-way direction, portraying the United States as a source of “experience” and Europe as wide-eyed youth in need of inspiring examples. Joseph Weiler’s take on the project, however, was quite different. He was determined to avoid the trap of ephemeral similitude. Having identified a bed-rock of analogies, he then set out to unearth the specific dynamics that had enabled Europe's legal change. Weiler’s own contribution to Integration through Law, focused as it was on Europe’s institutional uniqueness, found its natural sequel in The Transformation. This article explained Europe in terms remarkably intelligible to US lawyers, but avoided any direct reference to US federalism. This was, familiarly enough, a constitutional project based on a court-led orchestration of federal and state powers. Yet its internal analytics, shaped by the logic of free trade and by technocratic opacity, were sufficiently rich and peculiar to dispel any off-putting déjà vu effect.
Keywords: Europe, Private Law, Academia
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