While the nature and future of the European Union have recurrently been defined in constitutional terms ever since the 1950s, we are still in need for an explanation as to how this singular entanglement between law and the European project has emerged and consolidated over time. Rather than ascribing the process to the activism of the European Court of Justice, the presentation will provide a thicker analysis of the social and cognitive foundations of EU law. Drawing from historical and political sociology and mobilising empirical strategies that have only very recently been mobilized for the study of EU law, this work follows the early transnational microcosms of legal practitioners and scholars that populated Europe’s first political, judicial, bureaucratic and market institutions in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. By showing how the field of law has been the very terrain where the heterogeneous set of European treaties, communities, and policies has been turned into one polity and a «constitutional settlement», the presentation hopes to shed new light on the current debates over the various possible paths for reforming the Union.
Antoine Vauchez is CNRS Research professor at the Centre européen de sociologie et science politique (Université Paris 1-Sorbonne) and a permanent visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen (iCourts research unit). Over the past decade, his research has explored the intersection between law and politics in a variety of contexts (in particular France, Italy and the European Union) and, more recently, the constitutive role of non-majoritarian institutions in EU polity. Among his most recent publications are: Lawyering Europe. European Law as a social field (edited with Bruno de Witte, Hart, 2014), Brokering Europe. Euro-lawyers and the making of transnational polity (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Democratizing Europe (available in French, forthcoming in English, Palgrave, 2015).