CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1One well-documented consensus in the field of international political science is the assertion that “European integration” occurred principally through law, [1] to such an extent that today law seems self-evident as the language in which the specificity and autonomy of the European political order is articulated and (re)-built on a daily basis. As a result there is a huge body of work – mainly in English – that analyses the evolution of European integration [2] by invoking the central role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and its jurisprudence. There is also an equally large literature expanding on this by seeking to explain influences on the process and the success of the “quiet revolution” [3] initiated by the court at the beginning of the 1960s, and symbolized [4] by its judgments in Van Gend &Loos (1963) and Costa v. Enel (1964). This is not the forum in which to review this literature in detail, nor to point out its varied approaches, advantages and limitations. However, because the research agenda in this field has been established in the wake of these legendary judgments, the extant literature has come to treat them as the indispensable means through which to understand the existence of European law: a supranational form of law that is nevertheless not international. As a result European law appears as “always already” present and available to judicial actors who could and would therefore immediately be recognized, by themselves and others, as judges whose decisions would be legitimately definitive. Hence, deceived by the illusions of the law, [5] most of the existing literature on this topic ignores an obvious point: European law has not always existed and there was a distant time when its specific interpretations of the European juridical order were not immediately available. Doubtless, for this reason, the existing literature has refrained from thoroughly thinking through what it might have meant to conceive Europe in terms of law. In other words, existing analyses fail to acknowledge and understand the very real political and cognitive obstacles implicit in the act of imagining a new form of law, whose development was in fact consubstantial with the development of a European political order which that law described, even as it also brought it into being. By focusing the analysis initially on the social and political conditions in which these landmark judgments – today considered by jurists to be the birth of European law – were made, we are better able to grasp the realities of the role played by a small group of jurists in the construction of the Court’s jurisdictional character and also the role they played, as communicators and translators, in the reception of European-level judgments at the national level. [6] Such an approach also allows us to closely observe the social space in which the new European legal dialect was gradually elaborated, and thereby to restore to the legal discipline, which all too often presents itself as apolitical and ahistorical, its “impure origins”. This is possible through examination of the central role played by European political institutions in the construction of a European community doctrine, where “doctrine” is understood both as a community of experts and as a corpus of specialized knowledge. However, this article does not limit itself to these analytical goals. By borrowing Ernst Kantorowicz’s analytical schema concerning the relationship between “legal expertise” and the legitimation of political power, [7] I aim to go beyond the instrumental conception of law that remains all too current in political science, and to show that there were limits to such instrumentalization of the law in the service of a given political project. For while the law was indeed one of the fundamental foundations on which the European political project could build its legitimacy, it was nevertheless by no means a freely “available” resource on which political actors could readily draw. More specifically, this use of law required actors to deal with the specific rules of a field – that of legal expertise – which was fairly autonomous and which substantially predated the political project of European integration. This analytical method allows us to grasp the process of the construction of European law as uncertain and fumbling: the product of an entire system of exchange between the legal authorities on the one hand and, on the other, the political actors engaged in the construction and the legitimization of a supranational Europe. This was a system of exchange in which the stakes were both the definition of how to appropriately describe European integration through law, and also, inseparably, the very possibility of conceiving of an autonomous European political order.

2That said, the goal of this article is not to take into account the whole of the process through which the doctrine of European law was developed, but instead, more modestly, to update its “actantial model” through an examination of the first moment of that process: the international academic congress on the ECSC held at Stresa between 31 May and 9 June 1957. [8]

3Since this first academic “high mass” around the ECSC [9] was largely organized by the High Authority of the ECSC and by European MPs, at a time when the embryonic European Community – and the project of a supranational Europe of which this Community was then its sole achievement – was facing the first major political crisis in the history of European integration, it can be understood, first and foremost, as an attempt to politically mobilize juridical doctrine in order to bestow legal objectivity on the “supranational”, thereby granting it scholarly legitimacy at a time when the concept had suffered a clear political defeat. The organization of the congress allowed for numerous exchanges between law professors on one side and political actors, in the widest sense of the term, on the other. These exchanges constitute an excellent arena in which to observe the negotiations, resistances, alterations and forms of compromise necessary to engineer a new law, and in particular the need to balance the role of the new law in the service of a political project – in this case building a supranational Europe – against the need to obtain some sort of endorsement from existing authorities on interstate relations, authorities we can label the “internationalist” doctrine. However, at Stresa, this attempted recruitment of “the scholarly community” in the service of supranationality failed. Paradoxically, and despite this initial failure, the Stresa congress represents a crucial stage in the construction of a genuinely European community doctrine, to the extent that it allowed a group of “European law entrepreneurs” to emerge and to form as a group.

Saving the ECSC

4In the fall of 1954 the ECSC plunged into an unprecedented crisis. Not only was the European political project, of which the ECSC was the first achievement – and the concept of supranationality its motto – becalmed, as well as the construction of a federal Europe around the idea of sectoral organizations, but even more than the future of the European project, the existence of the ECSC and its institutions were in peril. Against such a backdrop, the organization of the first international academic congress took on a genuinely political character, positioning itself in the wider crusade to save the young European Community – and thereby the political project of a supranational Europe – that was led by the High Authority and a majority of members of the European parliament.

From the European Defense Community to the Western European Union: supranationality becalmed and the ECSC in peril

5On 30 August 1954 the French National Assembly refused to ratify the treaty establishing a European Defense Community (EDC) and thereby rejected the associated project of a European political community. In so doing the National Assembly brutally ended a euphoric period in European history, during which it had been possible to believe that a federal United States of Europe was an imminent reality. Out of this euphoric period, which had seen the flowering of a multitude of plans for supranational organizations conceived on the model of the Schuman Plan, [10] only the ECSC had emerged in concrete form, and even the ECSC “deprived of the political outcomes on which its creators had counted, now looked like little more than a technical body charged with regulating the commercial exchange of coal and steel in continental Europe”. [11]

6This fatal blow to the supranational project fell on 23 October 1954 with the signature of the Paris agreements: in the face of the failure of the EDC, with its goal of integrating West Germany into the defensive strategy of the western powers, France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg revived the Treaty of Brussels, which had been signed on 17 March 1948, [12] and added to it Italy and West Germany. In so doing they created the Western European Union (WEU). The WEU was an international organization focused on inter-governmental cooperation and contained no element of supranationality. Quickly, a number of commentators began to announce a new era in the process of European construction, finally integrating Great Britain and “heralding a return to political and diplomatic concepts that are the product of the evolution of international relations since the two World Wars and that are based on the maintenance of the greatest possible measure of sovereignty for individual states”. [13] The WEU therefore appeared to be a credible alternative to the supranational Europe of Jean Monnet and, “it is now, around this alternative, that we will be obliged to build Europe”. [14] It was not, therefore, the construction of greater European unity that was at stake in the middle of the 1950s, but rather the question of supranationality, and as a result, the future of the ECSC. Moreover, this view of the situation was broadly shared within institutions. Jean Monnet, then the President of the High Authority of the ECSC, announced on 9 November 1954 that he would not seek a new mandate in the February of the following year in order to be free to lead a movement, outside the European institutional context, that would campaign in favor of a United States of Europe. It was in the following terms that Giuseppe Pella, president of the Common Assembly of the ECSC, phrased his inaugural speech on 29 November 1954:


“The political events that have unfolded on the international scene since our last meeting in May, and which are still going on, have caused a good deal of uncertainty and difficulties, not only with regard to the progress of the European idea, but also in relation to the results achieved so far and the future development of our community itself. It is as though a heavy, dark curtain has fallen across our horizon, thereby rendering it dark and obscure.” [15]

8And indeed, the shift of the focus of European interest from the ECSC to the WEU not only damaged the functioning of the coal and steel community itself, but also compromised the future of the more political European project which was its goal. On the one hand, the rejection of the principle of the transfer of national sovereign rights to supranational institutions threw into doubt the feasibility of a functioning common market which was limited to the exchange of coal and steel by putting at risk the eventual extension of such a market to other economic sectors. On the other hand, this shift of the center of European political gravity promised, in the short term, to obstruct the proper functioning of the ECSC itself.


“The governments of the six countries in the ‘pool’ will be far less prepared to make concessions to the High Authority as soon as the latter no longer seems to carry the hopes of all Europe. In consequence the establishment of a Common Market will become considerably more difficult and the anticipated results of the Schuman Plan will recede into a more distant future.” [16]

10This was likewise the view of Pierre Evrard, who analyzed the position of the ECSC in the fall of 1954 in an article for L’Observateur, evocatively titled: “The death knell of the coal and steel community”. [17] In concrete terms, a majority of European MPs and bureaucrats of the High Authority feared that the new political situation would cause two negative consequences: that their Community would lose its political quality and would cease to operate as the vanguard of wider European construction; [18] and that the balance of power within the authority, between member states on one side and common institutions, created by the Treaty of Paris, on the other, would be upset. The idea of this balance of power had been articulated through the idea of the “delegation of powers”, the “transfer of authority” or the “surrender of sovereignty” in favor of the common institutions, whose emblem was supranationality. [19]

11The political crisis of late 1954 therefore seemed to threaten both the identity and the role of the ECSC as a European organization. To the defenders of supranationality, the threat seemed all the graver given that the ECSC was just two years old. [20] At this point we realise just how divergent were the meanings attached to the idea of “supranationality” around which its defenders had sought to construct the specific nature of the European Community. Of course, the ECSC had always had its critics and detractors, as had the gradual construction of a federal Europe that the ECSC was supposed to incarnate. [21] But these criticisms – essentially amounting to redefinitions of the institution’s nature and role – had up until this time been the largely inaudible claims of a small minority, comfortably drowned out by the generalized enthusiasm of the first years of the European project. [22] In this context, the “crime of 30 August” struck the cheerleaders of supranationality like a bolt of lightning, knocking them brutally down to earth and leaving them dazed and confused – leading to extensive “soul-searching”. [23] It was once they had completed the review of this political failure that the partisans of supranationality began to realize just how imprecise the term was, and how minimal their consensus on what their principal political and conceptual slogan actually meant. This broad but shallow consensus had of course been one reason for “supranationality’s” success, [24] – and also for the incomprehension and misunderstanding it provoked in public opinion. [25]

12The defenders of supranationality had long been in a struggle against proponents of other European visions: the advocates of a Europe of nations, and the partisans of a Europe strictly limited to a free-exchange zone. [26] These positions had prospered following the collapse of the EDC and the “supranationalists” urgently needed to recover lost ground by producing a “consolidated” definition of the ECSC as a supranational community. [27] In fact, far from resigning themselves to what they considered as the dawn of European federation being turned into a mere “coal and steel cartel” [28] at the hands of the member states, the High Authority and the great majority of members of the Common Assembly set out on what can be described as a crusade, led by their President, Giuseppe Pella. [29] The High Authority intensified its propaganda efforts amongst the general public, [30] while the Common Assembly members adopted a resolution [31] on 2 December 1954 in which they forcefully reasserted the parliamentary character of the Common Assembly and thus the truly political nature of the ECSC. They also created a working group charged with the responsibility of studying ways in which the substantive jurisdiction of the Community could be extended, and even the possibility of electing members of the Common Assembly directly, through a vote on the basis of universal suffrage.

13It was in this context, at the end of 1955, that the “Italian Center for Juridical Studies” [32] took the initiative by organizing an international congress in Stresa in the spring of 1957 dedicated to the study of the ECSC. The animating figure here was Giuseppe Pella, the president of the Common Assembly, but also one of the most eminent members of the Italian Center for Juridical Studies and a professor of economics at the universities of Rome and Turin. He would chair the organizing committee for the Stresa congress. The Stresa congress can justly be considered the first academic “high mass” to take place around the ECSC; but its immediate goal was to convince and re-mobilize a specific political audience around the project of a supranational Europe. [33] As such it should be seen as part of the crusade, launched in January 1955 by the defenders of supranationality, to save the nascent ECSC.

Establishing the identity of the ECSC: rooting supranationality in law

14The Stresa congress was an opportunity seized by the High Authority to try to build, on new terms, a veritable doxa of supranationality, one that would eventually permit the exclusion of “heretical” naysayers. Hence a project that at first glance might seem to be a purely academic undertaking takes on a quite different appearance, and should be grasped as an attempt to use “scholarship” to legitimate a political project.

15And indeed, following a request by Giuseppe Pella on 22 February 1956, support for the congress from the High Authority was rapidly accorded. “Believing that it will be in the interest of the Community to promote or even create an annual academic congress on one of the aspects of the ECSC [the members of the High Authority] unanimously agree to grant a subsidy of 10 million lire to the Italian Center for Juridical Studies” [34] and decided to take part in the organization of the event, thus demonstrating its support for the goals of the congress, as defined by the organizing committee and as distilled in Pella’s arguments, which accompanied his request for support. In sum, for the High Authority, if “the effort required by the [organizing committee] is indeed substantial, it is worth agreeing to not only for the purposes of propaganda for our cause, but above all to deliver the greatest possible support to the best possible articulation of the new principles brought into effect with the Treaty of Paris, but that have not yet won universal endorsement and remain the subject of uncertainty and debate among academic authorities”. [35] The goal, then, was to get the opinion of the “academic world” on “this unprecedented European experience, but also to encourage debate on the eventual perfecting of the Community and on the potential evolution of this new supranational organization”. [36] Emphasis was placed on the original character of the organization and the need to “make clear the specific juridical form […] that distinguishes it from other sorts of organizations”. [37] In other words, much as the Stresa congress was intended to be an opportunity to publicize the ECSC’s activities in the domain of coal and steel, to convince public opinion of the new organization’s economic efficiency, and of course to obtain the opinion of academic “experts” regarding the Community’s future, its primary objective, above all else, was to position new concepts, most notably supranationality, within the objectivity of the law.

16In organizing this first academic “high mass” at Stresa, the Italian Center for Juridical Studies and the bureaucracy of the High Authority therefore set out to make a completely new juridical category out of a political slogan, The concept of “supranationality” had suffered a clear setback in the realm of politics, and would be rebuilt in the realm of academia. In practical terms this implied two goals. First, to demonstrate the existence of supranationality as a legal concept (first incarnated in the ECSC and distinct from other international organizations), by putting it on display surrounded by its community of academic specialists; second, to create for supranationality a definition suitable for the political pretentions of its partisans.

17This was not just a simple question of vocabulary or amatter for pedantic jurists. The stakes behind the question of the juridical status of the ECSC – whether it was supranational or international and hence whether it was subject to international or supranational law – were both symbolically and pragmatically important. In symbolic terms the answer to these questions would affect the possibility of conceiving the nascent European system as an autonomous legal order distinct from the international order, and consequently the possibility of presenting the ECSC as an embryonic European political order. In practical terms, the ability to assert that the ECSC was a supranational organization, governed by rules different to those of classical international law, and whose basis and principles remained to be discovered, would allow a constructive and indeed a teleological interpretation of the Treaty of Paris. Such an interpretation was not possible under international law, which traditionally was very respectful of state sovereignty and of states’ power not to commit themselves beyond the terms of explicit agreement and to remain the ultimate arbiter of just what those terms were. By contrast, one of the main solutions to the political difficulties [38] of the ECSC proposed by the partisans of supranationality was to interpret the Treaty of Paris in such a way as to grant to the coal and steel community further domains of jurisdiction. More prosaically, but in the same register of ambition, reaffirming the supranational nature of the ECSC would also set in stone what the advocates of supranationality saw as being one of the specific characteristics of the European Community: that the member states were subordinated to the various supranational bodies of the ECSC: the High Authority, the Court of Justice and the special Council of Ministers that operated on a majority basis.

18The stakes were all the higher given that the Stresa congress was being organized at the same time as the process of European re-launch, instigated by the Six at Messina on 1 June 1955. [39] This political process would reach its conclusion on 25 March 1957 with the signature of two treaties in Rome – the EEC treaty and the Euratom treaty – in which the term “supranational” did not appear once, [40] even if the drafters borrowed heavily from the institutional example of the ECSC. Thus it was that, a few months before the congress was held, it became apparent that not only was the identity of the ECSC at stake, but also the entirety of the process of European integration. It then becomes easy to see why the High Authority decided not just to sponsor the congress at Stresa financially, but to exact in exchange a very concrete role in the event’s preparations.

Conscripting scholarship

19The project was already fairly well defined [41] when the High Authority allocated the coordination and oversight of the “Pella Congress” to Jacques-René Rabier, who was the director, under Enzo Giacchero, [42] of the High Authority’s Information and Press Department. Between February 1956 and May 1957, a significant correspondence of administrative memos and letters developed between Rabier, Michel Gaudet, the director of the High Authority’s legal department, Enzio Cortese Riva Palazzi, the Italian Center for Juridical Studies’ bureaucratic chief for the Stresa congress organizing committee, and a variety of professors.

20Through this correspondence we can perceive the desire of the High Authority to steer the organization of the congress in such a way as to respond to the goals and constraints, both conjunctural and structural, that affected the effort to politically mobilize the doctrine of supranationality. This was a tricky undertaking, not least because, although the goal was to stage a discussion by a community of jurists who would support a supranational definition of the nature of the ECSC, in the middle of the 1950s no such community of experts in the jurisprudence of European integration actually existed. To this first problem we should add a second. It was necessary to respect the “autonomy” of the academic world, [43] lest the political character of the enterprise become too blatant and thereby delegitimized it in the eyes of precisely those actors the congress sought to recruit – the jurists themselves – but also in the eyes of the journalists, politicians, industrialists and unionists who constituted the audience to be convinced by the congress and who believed in the authority of law because they believed it to be rooted in a strict neutrality.

21Thus for the High Authority, the task was to ensure the political success of the operation by amending at the margins the make-up of the academic committees and guest list at the congress so as to include those scholars who seemed to be supporters, while also making sure that the congress took place on a strictly academic basis. [44]

22As a result, on 12 January 1957, Rabier sent Cortese Riva Palazzi a long list of “personalities” that seemed “useful additions to or substitutes for those previously included”. [45] The list had been prepared with the help of bureaucrats from various departments with an interest in the congress and had been polished by Michel Mouskhély, a professor of public law at the University of Strasbourg and a director of the Union of European Federalists (UEF), as well as secretary-general of the European University Professors Association (EUPA). [46] The list was therefore essentially composed of “academic personalities with whom the High Authority has already enjoyed a working relationship” [47] and of members of the EUPA, people for whom the construction of European unity was highly unlikely to be problematic. [48] In the same letter, furthermore, Rabier also suggested that the Italian organizers could usefully review a certain number of potential participants: for instance, Bernard Lavergne, professor of political economy at the Paris law faculty, who Rabier considered “unable to take part in a spirit of non-partisan neutrality”. [49] Lavergne was indeed known for his critical point of view on the ECSC and EDC, as expressed in articles published in the Revue d’études coopératives. [50] In the same vein, the composition of the various academic committees was modified. A number of “experts” proposed by the organizing committee were replaced by Community loyalists. One example of this latter process was Henri Rolin, [51] who was replaced first by Fernand Dehousse [52] and then by Pierre Wigny. [53] Another case was that of Suzanne Bastid, who had in France publicly expressed her opposition to the EDC [54] treaty and who was replaced by René Roblot. [55]

An alliance with the legitimate doctrine: the internationalists

23In this way every one of the academic committees was slightly re-staffed, with the notable exception of the steering committee, which was made up almost exclusively of professors of international law and which was charged with producing the decisive report on the juridical nature of the ECSC.

Membership of the academic steering committee of the congress

The steering committee was made up of Charles Rousseau, professor at the Paris law faculty, Maurice Bourquin, professor of international law at the Institute for Advanced International Studies in Geneva, Walter Schätzel, professor of international law at Bonn University, Gaetano Morelli, professor of international law at the law faculty of Rome University, Eugène Schaus, doctor of law and a member of the Common Assembly (though not a professor, he taught regularly at the European University Center at Nancy) and Jan H. W. Verzijl, professor of international law at Utrecht University. The steering committee was presided over by Roberto Ago, professor of international law at the political science faculty of Rome University, and its rapporteur was Paul de Visscher, professor of international law at Louvain University.

24If the overwhelming presence of specialists in international law seems strange or even counter-productive, in light of the poor relationship today between specialists of international law and those of European community law, [56] the idea seemed logical to the Stresa congress organizers. Indeed, in their eyes such an alliance appeared a good idea from more than one standpoint.

25As we have noted above, at the start of the 1950s there were no identifiable specialists in the law of the ECSC. Indeed it was the very possibility of conceiving of an autonomous supranational form of law that was at stake in the debate over the juridical character of the coal and steel community. The Stresa organizers therefore set out to ally themselves, within the existing framework, with the leading exponents of what was seen as the legitimate doctrine in terms of European organizations. Hence the presence at Stresa of these representatives of international law, reflecting the internal division of labor in the legal community between specialists of national and international law. This basic distinction was so well established in the legal community that it seemed self-evident to both the law professors themselves – who were thereby made either eligible or ineligible for the conference – and to the conference organizers. With its origins in an international treaty concluded between a set of sovereign states, the ECSC thus appeared as an international organization – and therefore a “legitimate” object of analysis for international law. We should not forget that Paul Reuter, widely considered the author of the Treaty of Paris, was himself an international law professor.

26If the fact that the international law specialists were mobilized seems logical from the very fact of the doctrinal division of labor, this was not the only reason. On the one hand, the discipline brought together academic professors and jurisconsults who placed their knowledge in the service of states’ interests and thereby enjoyed the ear of a political audience. It was also a scholarly discipline, able to build and maintain its political influence through its neutrality, universality and ambition to question the dogma of absolute state sovereignty. [57] On the other hand, there was no real alternative to the international law specialists, without compromising the potential political success of the congress. This was because, other than the professors of international law, the ECSC was only of interest to two other categories of jurists, and neither group enjoyed access to the political and diplomatic elites that the congress was intended to persuade. [58]

27The first of these marginal groups consisted of those we might call “the embedded jurists of the Community” [59] because of their professional connections to the ECSC institutions. Some of them held prestigious academic positions, but the neutrality and scholarly rigor of their points of view were naturally suspect. Typical in this regard were Pierre-Henri Teitgen, [60] Fernand Dehousse and Pierre Wigny. As for the second group, it was made up of a small number of early-career law professors, mainly specialists in national law. For this group their interest in the ECSC was either a strategy to gain renown within their national academic hierarchy, or else it was driven by an activist commitment to the construction of a federal Europe. As a result of their commitment and their interest in the ECSC, some of them came to be seen as innovators within the wider legal field.

28If we accept the sociological premise according to which “the strength of a symbolic construction relies upon the strength of the groups that rally around its emblems”, [61] then it is hardly surprising that the steering committee of the Stresa conference was basically made up of masters of international law who enjoyed uncontested social and academic prestige. With the sole exception of the Luxembourgeois E. Schaus, every single one had taught at the Academy of International Law in The Hague and were members of the Institut de Droit International (IDI) [Institute of International Law]: two factories of a universalist and constraining form of international law. [62] All had acted as legal advisors to their respective national governments. A few examples will suffice: Charles Rousseau was assistant legal advisor to the French Foreign Ministry from 1949 onwards; Roberto Ago had represented Italy at the ILO and had repeatedly defended his national government before a variety of international tribunals; and Maurice Bourquin had represented his government on various occasions and was a member of the Belgian delegation to the Paris peace conference in 1919 and likewise to the Council of the LON, the disarmament conference of 1932-1935 and the preparatory committee for – and first assembly of – the United Nations in 1945-1946.

A rational alliance

29Given the above, we should emphasize that on the eve of the congress the High Authority had good reason to believe that the report of the steering committee would overall be more positive than negative regarding the High Authority’s ambitions for the ECSC. While the congress organizers were well aware of the criticisms of a “supranational” ECSC made by certain professors of international law, [63] most of those selected to sit on the steering committee had more or less made clear their “political” support for the project of a supranational Europe. For example, Eugène Schaus was among those in the Common Assembly who defended supranationality and the political vocation of the ECSC. [64] Charles Rousseau, who had never taken a clear position on the question of the ECSC’s juridical status, was, like Roberto Ago, a member of the European University Professors Association and had co-signed a piece in Le Monde[65] in the summer of 1954 in support of the EDC.Meanwhile, J. H.W. Verzijl, even if he had defended the Dutch government against the High Authority in 1954, [66] was nonetheless broadly in support. He had been among the committee of jurists to whom, in May 1952, the secretariat of the Council of Europe had assigned the task of drawing up a draft statute for a European political community. [67] He was also involved, as an expert consultant, in the work of the Common Assembly’s ad hoc constitutional commission’s sub-commission on institutional jurisdictions. Finally, and this is undoubtedly key, the congress organizers clearly placed great hopes in Paul de Visscher, since they asked him to draft the steering committee’s final report. De Visscher stands out from the other steering committee members. In 1957, he was just 41, while the average age of the committee members was about 60. His disciplinary position was also less narrowly focused on international law than that of the other members, since he was interested in particular in the links between international and constitutional law and therefore stood at the intersection of internal, national, public law and international law. [68] Above all, his writings up to that time could be interpreted in such a way as to suggest that he would prove to be an unequivocal supporter of supranationality. In 1952 he had been among a set of contributors asked by the Belgian government to assess the juridical nature of the European treaties that created the supranational institutions. [69] The answer they produced was that the “supranational European community” could be clearly established as an individual and specific entity, distinct from the “suprastate community” [70] and, overall, recognizing that “the treaties that have created the supranational communities mark a new stage in the development of the law of nations”. [71] In the same way, de Visscher was also known, within the world of the ECSC, as the author of one of the two first reference books on the ECSC. [72] This text was a co-authored work, produced by a working group at the Brussels Institute of International Relations under de Visscher’s editorship. [73] Naturally, the question of the ECSC’s juridical status was raised there and the conclusions reached very much conformed to the positions held by the representatives of the ECSC itself. In short, in this text the ECSC was first compared to a union of states, then to a federal state, before finally being categorized as “a sui generis international institution that cannot be placed in any of the usual categories that describe unions of states”. [74] Although the question of which form of law applied to the new institution was answered neither in this text nor in the response to the Belgian government in which de Visscher was involved, there was no great distance from acknowledgement of the sui generis – supranational – character of the ECSC to the abandonment of conventional international law as a code through which to govern it.

30Overall, enormous confusion seemed to reign as to the likely outcome of the steering committee’s work. At any rate, that is the conclusion suggested by the measures taken by the High Authority between the fall of 1956 and the spring of 1957, which aimed to give the relevant High Authority departments the power to track the advance of the committee’s work and to influence its direction and progress through indirect means. It was with an eye on this that Rabier made sure that the rapporteur[75] for each committee was in touch with those departments, and with the same goal in mind that he suggested that an “observer” from the High Authority sit in on each of the committees “to follow their work and document it, without actively participating”. [76]All the evidence seems to suggest that it was through these informal exchanges between rapporteurs and department officials of the High Authority that the latter began to realize the extent of the distance between their political ambitions and the position of the steering committee as to the juridical character of the ECSC. While the High Authority wanted to obtain recognition of a new, supranational juridical order, in which national states would be subordinate to European institutions, the steering committee’s conclusions appeared to be heading in a different direction. It was not by chance that on 25 February 1957, one month after Gaudet received a first draft of the “de Visscher Report” that Rabier sent the following memo to the members of the High Authority:


“[…] Our observers are following the work of the committees closely and are trying to give them the documentation about the Community they may need, while of course leaving full responsibility for their decisions to the rapporteurs. As a result, it is not out of the question that in the course of the congress itself representatives of the High Authority may have to intervene to rectify or flesh out certain ideas or even oppose certain conclusions. […] What is now urgent is that the High Authority officially names its representatives to the congress.” [77]

32In the same vein, it was not until May 1957 that Louis Delvaux, a judge at the Court of Justice [78] and as such a participant at the congress, volunteered to lend a hand to the cause of supranationality.


“I have just read in the bulletin of the ‘Europe’ agency that at the Stresa congress the concept of supranationality is the subject of debate and that the conclusion may not be favorable. I have made a personal study of the idea and I enclose in case it is of use.” [79]

The birth of a group

34Louis Delvaux was not wrong. Despite the care with which the High Authority had prepared the congress, the 100-page report, put together by Paul de Visscher on behalf of the steering committee, took a diametrically opposed position to that held by the ECSC institutions, a contrast that is made explicit by Michel Gaudet’s annotations on the draft that de Visscher sent him in December 1956. In this respect, and in terms of the broader goals that the organizers had set themselves, the Stresa congress was a failure. It was far from being a unanimous and overwhelming assertion of the arrival of a new form of law, positioned between international and national law. Instead, the Stresa congress saw a doctrinal confrontation between specialists in international law, who argued for the international character of the ECSC, and on the other side a varied collection of jurists, who argued that the ECSC was a supranational organization and claimed to have founded a new form of law. This marked the failure of the High Authority to recruit “legal scholarship” as a means of presenting its view on supranationality in terms that would appear objective and unified. Despite this, and over and above the initial and undoubted failure, the Stresa congress nevertheless marked an important step in the development of a specific European Community legal doctrine. This was because it was at and through Stresa that a real group of “European Community law entrepreneurs” became aware of each other and came to be organized as a group.

The internationalists’ argument: the supranational is a stranger in the legal realm


“Taking into account that the ECSC was born of an international treaty, that it affords considerable room in its internal functioning and the very composition of its organization to the sovereignty of member states and, finally, that its power is as much rooted in harmonization as in subordination, it seems difficult to accept that granting the ECSC certain powers, with an immediate effect on businesses and business associations in the coal and steel industry, can justify on its own the abandonment of its categorization – one that is, moreover, very flexible – as an ‘international institution’.” [80]

36Following a scrupulous analysis, Paul de Visscher reached an unarguable conclusion that accurately reflected the views of a majority on the steering committee. Although he recognized “that the legal regime of the ECSC affects European national citizens with an immediacy [81] of unprecedented scale and power”, to the question of whether “as a result of this – essentially quantitative – novelty, jurists should recognize the jurisprudential legitimacy of the term ‘supranational’”, [82] his response was in the negative. On this basis, in his view the ECSC remained a conventional international organization, consequently subject to conventional international law. [83]

37Needless to say, Michel Gaudet did not agree with de Visscher’s conclusions on behalf of the steering committee. On the contrary, he believed that “it is [precisely] through its ‘quantitative’ scale that the supranational can be distinguished from the international”, and he argued that “the ECSC is a ‘halfway house’: its supranational nature includes elements closer to the international order as well as others that affiliate with federal structures”. [84] On this basis, he believed that the norms of the Treaty of Paris had constituted a “new order, inspired by international norms but borrowing some of its characteristics from federalism”. [85] Gaudet himself did not take part in the discussion that followed the presentation of de Visscher’s report. But his point of view was taken up by other participants at the congress, who articulated the same ideas, whether in verbal interventions or through written communiqués. These documents, spontaneously drafted, much like that of Louis Delvaux, after the shock of the steering committee’s conclusions, were sent by the dissident participants to the congress organizers, and when published in the wake of the report, the total of seven protesting statements became the official pivot of “dissident opinion”. Among these protestors we find a number of the jurists who were “embedded within the ECSC” – Pierre Wigny, Louis Delvaux, Maurice Lagrange (Advocate General at the Court of Justice), and Hans-Wolfram Daig, a doctor of law attached to the Court of Justice. There was also a varied set of younger professors, generally specialists in national law – like François Luchaire or Paul Gaudemet – and in some cases activists for the European cause – Léontin Constantinesco, Guy Héraud and Michel Goriely were members of the UEF – or those, like Jean de Soto, Paul Durand and René Roblot [86], who enjoyed close professional contact with the High Authority as part of their jobs.

38To summarize, at the level of legal doctrine the Stresa congress presented an alternative between international and supranational law. “Legal scholarship” presented a disunited front; thereby sorely questioning one of the bases of its social authority (and political effectiveness): its capacity to present its verdicts as objective truth. Thus, while the end of the congress was a disappointment to its promoters, because it ended with no statement affirming the birth of a new form of law, it was equally embarrassing for the international legal specialists. The authority of international law had already been weakened by the Second World War, and the ability of its rulings to limit the ambitions and actions of sovereign states had never been more in doubt. It was this precarious standing of international lawyers in the mid-1950s – and their determination to overcome it – which explains both their desire to keep the ECSC within their intellectual ambit and the savage “call to scholarly order” issued by Roberto Ago, the president of the steering committee at Stresa, to mark the close of the conference, aimed at those who did not agree with the internationalists’ views.

39What interested the professors of international law in particular was the fact that the ECSC’s power could be directly exercised over the subjects of member states in a highly unmediated fashion. As such, the coal and steel community seemed to them to put international legal principles into practice more than any other, comparable, institution. Thus, by asserting that the ECSC belonged within the circle of international organizations, the internationalist doctrine hoped to effect a renewal and a toughening of their disciplinary credentials, and to make of international law not just a legal order of coordination but, like national law, one of subordination, capable of imposing its rulings and concepts on states and their peoples. [87] By contrast, as de Visscher made clear in his report, if the ECSC was indeed a supranational organization radically different from the other international organizations, and “if [as a result] immediacy of juridical impact is held to distinguish supranational from merely international forms of legal order, then we risk setting an arbitrary and dangerous limit on the potential development and progress of international law”. [88]

40In this light we can readily understand the violent re-delineation of the boundary between scholarship and politics formulated by Roberto Ago, one of the most eminent masters of international law of his era. In his condemnation we detect the seriousness of the threat posed by the supranationalist dissidents and hence the overwhelming need to resist them. By reducing the dissidents rhetorically to the status of “politicians” Ago sought to deprive opponents of the de Visscher report of the status of scholars – of men qualified to participate in the debate on the juridical nature of Europe. In fact, for Roberto Ago, “the contrast of opinions that surfaced in the discussion” between advocates of a supranational ECSC and partisans of an international ECSC “was really no such thing”. This was because, “in reality, the politician who seeks action stands on a very different plane to the scholar who tries to describe a given reality. […] Here is why I don’t think there was a real clash of opinion in our debate: the men of action (who support the ECSC as a supranational body), for all their impatient desire to deploy techniques that will rally the masses, share a single goal with the careful, prudent scholars (who see the ECSC as an international organization): the realization of the Europe we dream of”. [89] This was an effort on Ago’s part to rebuild the unity of “legal scholarship” by staking a monopoly claim, on behalf of the community of internationalists, to define legitimate legal doctrine on the topic of European integration, and to exclude dissident interpretations by disqualifying them.

The supranationalist schism

41Despite these final bids to reunify legal doctrine under the banner of international law, neither the Stresa congress nor the eight ensuing volumes of official proceedings that documented it demonstrate a scholarly community unified around a common set of interpretive principles concerning the new Europe. Quite the contrary, in fact. This first academic “high mass” had served to bring into the open the opposition between a group of “ECSC law entrepreneurs” and the community of internationalists. Whereas the congress organizers had hoped, mistakenly, to recruit the international law specialists to the cause of supranationality, these entrepreneurs assembled around a supranational vision of the ECSC, one that sat well with the institutional goals of the Community and that sought to make of it an autonomous political hub; a vision that was essentially incompatible with the preferred framework of the international law experts.

42It was precisely thanks to the doctrinal debate which followed the international law professors’ staking out of their position in the steering committee that previously individual and dispersed opposition among a diverse group of jurists began to coalesce, becoming a coherent opposition to the international lawyers that, as the congress unfurled, became a more clearly defined and entrenched position. This group brought together a heterogeneous collection of law professors, European MPs, members of the European Court of Justice, and of the legal service of the High Authority, who can be qualified as “dissidents” in the eyes of those who believed themselves to represent legitimate doctrine. The group assumed a greater sense of its role and coherence as its existence began to be implicitly acknowledged by the community of international law professors, who subsequently excommunicated it. Indeed the very process of exclusion, explicitly called for, thereafter helped consolidate the dissidents as a group and establish their collective identity.

Table 1

Jurists who took part in the first academic congress at Stresa on the ECSC and its relations with member states

Table 1
Name, First name Nationality Born (age) Profession/position Role at the congress Position on the degree of autonomy of ECSC law viz international law Supplementary biographical information Ago, Roberto Italian 1907 (50) Professor of international law in Rome/member of the Institut de Droit International [Institute of International Law] (IDI) President of the steering committee/ Participated in the production of its report. Upholds the international character of ECSC law. Member of the European University Professors Association / Member of the Legal committee of the Council of Europe in 1952 / Represented Italy at the ILO. De Visscher, Paul Belgian 1916 (41) Professor of international law in Louvain / member of the IDI Rapporteur / Drafted the report + intervened verbally Upholds the international character of ECSC law. Son of Charles de Visscher, Professor of international law between the world wars. Bourquin, Maurice Belgian 1884 (73) Professor of international law at Institute for Advanced International Studies Geneva / member of the IDI Member of the steering committee/ Participated in the production of its report. Upholds the international character of ECSC law. Morelli, Gaetano Italian 1900 (57) Professor of international law in Rome/member of the IDI Member of the steering committee/ Participated in the production of its report. Upholds the international character of ECSC law. Rousseau, Charles French 1902 (55) Professor of international law in Paris / member of the IDI Member of the steering committee/ Participated in the production of its report. Upholds the international character of ECSC law. Jurist at the French Foreign Ministry / Member of the European University Professors Association. Schätzel, Walter German 1890 (67) Professor of international law in Bonn / member of the IDI Member of the steering committee/ Participated in the production of its report. Upholds the international character of ECSC law.
Table 1
Schaus, Eugène Luxemburg 1901 (56) Lawyer Member of the steering committee/ Participated in the production of its report + intervened verbally Upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. Former minister / Vice president of the Chamber of deputies/ member of the ECSC common assembly. Verzijl, Jan H. W. Dutch 1888 (69) Professor of international law in Utrecht / member of the IDI Member of the steering committee/ Participated in the production of its report + intervened verbally Upholds the international character of ECSC law. Member of the Legal committee of the Council of Europe in 1952 / Expert consultant to the constitutional commission of the ad hoc assembly. Delvaux, Louis Belgian 1895 (62) Lawyer / Judge at the ECSC Court of Justice Written statement Strongly upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. Former deputy/minister. Wigny, Pierre Belgian 1905 (52) Professor of constitutional law Intervened verbally Strongly upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. Former deputy/minister / member of the ECSC common assembly. Lagrange, Maurice French 1900 (57) Counsel of State / Chief lawyer to the ECSC Court of Justice Intervened verbally Strongly upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. Daig, Hans-Wolfram German ? Attached to the ECSC Court of Justice Intervened verbally Upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law.
Table 1
Constantinesco, Léontin Romanian 1915 (42) Instructor in private and comparative law at the University of the Sarre / taught in several institutes of European studies Written statement + intervened verbally Strongly upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. UEF central committee member. Héraud, Guy French 1920 (37) Professor of Constitutional Law in Strasbourg / taught in several institutes of European studies Intervened verbally Upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law (initially at least). UEF Member / Member of the European University Professors Association. Goriely, Georges Belgian (born in Germany) 1921 (36) PhD in Law / Sociology Professor in Brussels / taught in several institutes of European studies Intervened verbally Upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. UEF Member / Member of the European University Professors Association. De Soto, Jean French 1915 (42) Professor of Public Law in Strasbourg Intervened verbally Upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. Luchaire, François French 1919 (38) Professor of Public Law in Nancy and Sarrebruck / Directed Center of Political Studies at Nancy University Intervened verbally Upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. Former chargé de mission and technical advisor to the Ministry of the Navy (1945) and to the Ministry of Overseas France (1951). Gaudemet, Paul French 1914 (43) Professor of Public Law in Nancy and Sarrebruck Intervened verbally Weakly upholds the autonomous character of ECSC law. Member in 1957 of the Sarre Tribunal.

Jurists who took part in the first academic congress at Stresa on the ECSC and its relations with member states

43Hence, a few months after the end of the congress at Stresa, Maurice Lagrange, Advocate General at the ECSC’s Court of Justice, hitherto a dissident voice crying in the wilderness, [90] assumed and claimed the rupture that had occurred at Stresa. Bolstered by this first “demonstration” at the congress, he henceforward spoke in the name of a distinct group, for which he acted both as spokesman and midwife, labeling the group, and designating its members and its adversaries. This was the purpose of the article he published in Revue du droit public at the end of 1958. [91] This article, which took the form of an inaugural manifesto for the dissident supranationalists, was topped off by a long and surprising preamble that emphasized the scholarly importance of the proceedings of the Stresa congress. Lagrange elevated these proceedings to the rank of a work of reference, and then identified by name, albeit indirectly, the members of the group, which for the first time he explicitly labeled “supranationalist”, [92] thereby endorsing a full-blown doctrinal schism. [93] Following a series of arguments that responded to de Visscher’s report point by point, Lagrange concluded with an appeal and a warning:


“We hope that the reader now understands why this text was written. It is both a statement of witness and an appeal. The statement of witness comes from one who has the honor of being associated with this first, exhilarating experience […]. As for the appeal, it is aimed above allas you will have surmisedat theinternationalists: those among them who declare themselves in favor of the current experiment, and who really are, should be well aware of the effect caused by the adoption of certain doctrinal standpoints and they should not hesitate, if necessary, to revise them. The dynamic character of the treaty demands a matching dynamism within legal thought.” [94]

45This appeal directly echoed the position staked out by Roberto Ago in his final speech to the Stresa congress. To the stigmatizing of the supranationalists by denigrating them as politicians, Maurice Lagrange responded with a statement of the necessity, in the circumstances, to think about the implication of doctrinal positioning on the construction of the European project. Only a few years after the end of the Second World War, such a warning amounted to accusing internationalists who stubbornly stuck to their guns of being “bad Europeans” and thus of working against peace.

46* * *

47Thus, the Stresa conference should not be thought of as the birth of supranational law. Nonetheless, it was an important step in the long process through which a properly European legal doctrine was constructed and given autonomy, because it allowed a diverse group of law professors, European MPs, and bureaucrats to realize that they shared a point of view and to understand the incompatibility of that point of view with the legal concept of European integration espoused by the internationalists. The High Authority, confronted by the apparent impossibility of enrolling the internationalists in the cause of supranationality, decided to change its “academic strategy”. Following the divorce between internationalists and supranationalists at Stresa, the legal service of the High Authority, which initially tried to promote an ad hoc development of the law by allying itself with the legitimate doctrine represented by the scholars of international law, then tried to impose their supranational vision of European integration against the international law specialists, relying for support on the several academics among the emerging group of entrepreneurs of supranational law. In the years that followed, it was through the symbiotic relationship connecting the members of the European political institutions to this collection of professors who lacked academic prestige, that the cardinal concepts of the European law we know today were worked out and consolidated. Among these cardinal concepts were the primacy of European law and its unmediated jurisdictional immediacy. It was through the same relationship that this new law would establish its legitimacy, having broken with legal tradition and, therefore, possessing questionable academic credentials. [95]


  • [1]
    See for example the review of the relevant literature in Delphine Dulong, “La science politique et l’analyse de la construction juridique de l’Europe: bilan et perspectives”, Droit et société, 49, 2001, 701-28.
  • [2]
    Walter Mattli and Anne-Marie Slaughter have described an avant-garde jurisprudence by a European court that, from the beginning, interpreted the Treaty of Rome’s tenets in expansive style, thereby imposing a de facto juridical federalism. The court did so, they argue, by affirming principles with direct consequences (judgment in Van Gend & Loos on 5 February 1963) and by asserting the primacy of the treaties and laws that derived from those principles (Costa v. Enel on 15 July 1964). In this way Mattli and Slaughter analyze the juridical construction of Europe as a sort of “machine” of which the “motor” was the referral of cases by national courts, and the “gasoline” was the interests of agents at the supernational or infranational levels. (Walter Mattli and Anne-Marie Slaughter, “Constructing the European Community legal system from the ground up: the role of individual litigants and national courts”, Harvard Jean Monnet Working Papers Series, 96(6), 1996, See also Alec Stone Sweet and James A. Caporaso, “La Cour de justice et l’intégration européenne”, Revue française de science politique, 48(2), 1998, 195-244.
  • [3]
    See Joseph H. H. Weiler, “A Quiet Revolution: the European Court of Justice and its interlocutors”, Comparative Political Studies, 26(4), 1994, 510-34.Online
  • [4]
    These authors, no longer preoccupied with describing and arguing for the existence of a process of integration through the operation of law, limit themselves and their analyses to the reception of the Court’s “constitutional doctrine” at the national level. And indeed there was nothing obvious about the eventual acceptance, by national jurisdictions and especially by supreme courts, of decisions that, as with the referral mechanism to the CJEU itself, effectively subordinated national judicial systems to European law. Karen Alter has shown that in fact the – often tardy – acceptance of this subordination by national judicial systems was the result of competition between national judiciaries on the one hand, and between lower-level and supreme courts within national systems, on the other. Intermediary and lower courts in particular referred to European legal interpretations in order to resist the hold of the national supreme court(s) over their margin of jurisprudential maneuver. Cf. Karen Alter, Establishing the Supremacy of European Law. The Making of an International Rule of Law in Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
  • [5]
    The authority and social efficacy of law are based on its universalizing qualities. These qualities are themselves the product of a double occlusion, which leads us to consider legal dynamics quite independently of the weight of social forces, and which leads the community of lawyers to remain silent about the creative and thus historically contingent aspects of their work. As a result one searches in vain in legal texts for a “social history of the birth of European law”. See, among others, Pierre Bourdieu, “La force du droit. Pour une sociologie du champ juridique”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 64, September 1986, 3-19, and Bastien François, “Préalables avant de prendre le droit comme objet. Notations en forme de plaidoyer pour un point de vue a-disciplinaire mais néanmoins soucieux des impensés disciplinaires”, in Jacques Commaille, Laurence Dumoulin and Cécile Robert (eds), La juridicisation du politique: leçons scientifiques (Paris: LGDJ, 2000), 115-21.
  • [6]
    Against the grain of her older research, Karen Alter recognizes this point in a more recent piece of work: Karen Alter, “Jurist advocacy movements in Europe: the role of Euro-law associations in European integration (1953-1975)”, presentation at the conference “The Historical Roots of European Legal Integration”, University of Copenhagen, 26-27 October 2007, version 2 (13 June 2008).
  • [7]
    Ernst H. Kantorowicz, “La royauté médiévale sous l’impact d’une conception scientifique du droit”, Politix, 32, 1995, 5-22.Online
  • [8]
    This study was conducted based on an original corpus of archives from the Information and Press Department and the Legal Department of the High Authority, collected as part of a thesis in progress on the birth of European Community law. This corpus consists essentially of exchanges of letters, memos, and various documents, such as lists of participants – sometimes corrected – which allowed me to reconstruct in detail the process of setting up this first European scholarly meeting, and reveal fully what is often inaccessible or even hidden: the hesitations and negotiations, and the various, sometimes contradictory, constraints that bear on the organization of this type of “transnational” event. I also supplemented this work by carrying out several interviews with Jacques-René Rabier (former Director of the Information and Press Department at the ECSC) and with Jacqueline Lastenouse (former head of University Relations in the Information and Press Department at the ECSC), which allowed me to understand the meaning of certain, occasionally opaque, documents.
  • [9]
    The congress’s preparation took more than a year and a half: it took place over ten days and brought together about 400 participants, all nominally invited by the organizing committee. More than 50 experts, of whom a large majority were law professors, were mobilized to participate in six “academic committees”, which met several times between July 1956 and March 1957 to prepare a report on one of the following topics: the ECSC and the member states; the ECSC, third party countries and international organizations; the ECSC and businesses within the Community; intervention by the High Authority; the system of prices and competition in the common market and, finally, the social orientation of the Community.
  • [10]
    From the early 1950s, the creation of a common agricultural market, the “Green Pool”, a European health community, the “White Pool” and a “European transport authority”, were also envisaged.
  • [11]
    “La Haute Autorité et l’Europe à sept”, Le Monde, 22 December 1954.
  • [12]
    Following the “Prague coup”, the Western European states – France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom – signed the Treaty of Brussels, which aimed primarily to organize automatic mutual support in the event of military aggression in Europe.
  • [13]
    Geneviève Tabouis, “Crépuscule de l’idée supranationale”, L’information, 13 November 1954.
  • [14]
    “La Haute Autorité et l’Europe à sept”.
  • [15]
    Speech by Giuseppe Pella, in “Débats de l’Assemblée Commune. Compte rendu in extenso”, 1954-1955, session of 29 November 1954, 10.
  • [16]
    “La Haute Autorité et l’Europe à sept”.
  • [17]
    Pierre Evrard, “Le glas du pool charbon-acier”, L’Observateur, 18 November 1954.
  • [18]
    Believing that the ECSC as an institution was the “prototype for a federal state”, Monnet himself thought that it had no sense “unless it leads to a proper political authority”. See the speech by Jean Monnet at his swearing in as head of the High Authority, 13 August 1952, as cited in Fabrice Langrognet, “L’Europe à l’heure du grand saut. Influences fédéralistes et Communauté politique européenne (1948-1954)”, (Masters dissertation, supervised by Éric Bussière, ENS-LSH Lyon, 2006).
  • [19]
    See the discussions that followed the presentation of the Klompé Report “Les relations extérieures de la CECA et ses développements à la lumière de l’évolution politique actuelle”, and the Teitgen Report, “Les pouvoirs de contrôle de l’Assemblée commune et leur exercice”, sessions of December 1 and 2 in “Débats de l’Assemblée Commune…”, 77-114 and 124-72.
  • [20]
    The members of the High Authority took up office in August 1952, the members of the Court in December 1952 and the Common Assembly met for the first time in September 1952.
  • [21]
    See, for example, the interventions by Michel Debré or Jean Maroger in the Common Assembly, which tended to limit the ECSC to its economic and technical roles. “Débats de l’Assemblée Commune…”, 137-45.
  • [22]
    It is certainly worth mentioning here that the ad hoc Assembly – composed of members of the ECSC Common Assembly, plus a few co-opted members of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe – met to prepare a draft treaty establishing a European political community from 15 September 1952 onward.
  • [23]
    Intervention by Pierre Wigny “Débats de l’Assemblée Commune…”, 89.
  • [24]
    We find behind this banner both members of the UEF, like Fernand Dehousse or Altiero Spinelli, who supported the convening of a European constituent assembly and the creation of a European federal state as soon as possible, and supporters of the so-called “functional” method – or Monnet method – who, like Pierre Wigny, advocated a gradual, progressive integration, which would also eventually lead to the birth of a European federation.
  • [25]
    Pierre Wigny expressed this to the Common Assembly on 1 December 1954: “The term supranationality, in my mind, has two meanings. The first is that which opposes this concept to a new international organization […]. There is a second, and here a degree of ambiguity is necessarily introduced. Supranationality is often understood in the sense of supernationality, and it thereby begins to provoke fear. […] Above the historical and existing States we glimpse the scaffolding of a super-State that is being created and that might crush us all […]. Talk of a United States of Europe, talk of a federal state, were convenient and easy terms through which to defend a just idea, but are also formulae that lend themselves too easily to ambiguity. We have clarified the terminology, avoiding the term federal state and preferring that of Community. But beyond that, we have simply talked about an organization that is sui generis. That is not enough. There is a need for further analysis […]. People have misunderstood what we want. When we speak of supranationality, we express an idea that seems to me both necessary and new, that is to say that the organization of powers, even national powers, should no longer concentrate only on one level and one point, but must be organized into two levels. […] Europe […] should not substitute itself for the nations, but instead is there so as to enable them to survive”. “Débats de l’Assemblée Commune…”, 89.
  • [26]
    See, among others, Jean Maroger, “L’évolution de l’idée de supranationalité”, Politique étrangère, 21(3), 1956, 299-312.
  • [27]
    We will have the opportunity to come back to this issue, but it is worth pointing out right away that, in this respect, legal scholarship in the mid-1950s was not of much help, since it was hard to grasp and divided; indeed there are almost as many definitions of the ECSC as authors who tackled the issue.
  • [28]
    See the intervention of Mr. Togni, “Débat de l’Assemblée commune…”, 102.
  • [29]
    President Pella in fact began, in January 1955, a tour of the European capitals on behalf of the Common Assembly. If the primary objective of this trip was, above all, to talk to representatives of the governments of the six about the appointment of the next President of the High Authority, Giuseppe Pella took the opportunity to present a broader overview of the future of the politics of European integration and a possible extension of the powers of the ECSC. See “Débats de l’Assemblée commune…”, Session of 6 May 1955, 199.
  • [30]
    Its Information and Press Department, for example, released in December 1954 a 30-page letter which aimed “in the current state of European development […] to stop all misunderstandings, to clarify obscure points and to make more familiar to the public the primary functions of this first attempt at a European community”. “Lettre d’information sur la CECA”, Europress, 17 December 1954, cited in Communauté européenne du charbon et de l’acier, Assemblée commune, Informations mensuelles 1, 1955, 8.
  • [31]
    “Resolution 27 of the Common Assembly on 2 December 1954”, Journal officiel CECA, 11 December 1954.
  • [32]
    The center resembled an interface between politics and law, a crossroads where Italian legal and political elites met. Its presidency was held in 1956 by Gaetano Azzarita (Chairman of the Constitutional Court), Ernesto Battaglini (Judge of the Constitutional Court), Angelo Tommasi (first honorary president of the Court of Cassation), Guido A. Raffaelli (first President of the Court of Appeal of Venice) and Enzio Cortese Palazzi Riva (General Counsel at the Court of Appeal of Milan). Among the center’s board members were, in particular, Giorgio Balladore Pallieri (professor of international law), Gaetano Morelli (professor of international law), and also Giuseppe Pella (professor of economics, Chairman of the Common Assembly) and Massimo Pilotti (Judge of the Court of Justice of the ECSC) and even former ministers, such as Giordano Dell’Amore (titular professor and holder of the chair of banking technology at the Business University of Milan, and former minister of foreign trade).
  • [33]
    A glance at the list of 470 guests is enough to convince us: on it figure only 164 university academics, while the rest represent what could be likened to a reproduction in miniature (in the sense used by Howard S. Becker, The Worlds of Art [Paris: Flammarion, 1988]) of the circles of the ECSC. There were 128 representatives of the coal and steel business community (business leaders, unions, consumer associations), 43 representatives from the legal community, 53 representatives of different ECSC institutions, 34 representatives of member states’ administrations, 8 representatives of other European organizations, and 32 journalists.
  • [34]
    Minutes of the meeting of the members of the High Authority of 21 March 1956, Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 29, document 9.
  • [35]
    Letter of 22 February 1956 from Giuseppe Pella to René Mayer, president of the High Authority, Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 29, documents 3 and 4. Emphasis mine.
  • [36]
  • [37]
    Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 29, document 81, “Notes sur le congrès international d’études sur la CECA”, attached by Pella to mail sent to René Mayer.
  • [38]
    In highly simplified terms, if one interprets the Treaty of Paris based on the goals it set for the ECSC, we may in fact consider that, to achieve a true common market for coal and steel, the High Authority had to be able to act on transport, fiscal issues or social matters.
  • [39]
    It was at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Six in Messina that the decision to take a further step towards European integration was made. Two projects were planned: the establishment of a common market and the creation of an organization to allow common use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. On 9 July 1955 a first phase of negotiations began under the chairmanship of Paul-Henri Spaak. It led to the drafting of the Spaak Report. This report was submitted to the governments of the Six on 26 April 1956. Meeting in Venice on 29 and 30 May 1956, the Six expressed assent to a text that already foreshadowed the future EEC and Euratom Treaties. This report would thus serve as a basis for the Val Duchesse negotiations, which opened on 26 June 1956 and ended in March 1957 with the signature of the two Treaties of Rome. The Stresa Congress took place in between the signing and the ratification of the Rome Treaties.
  • [40]
    On this point see, among others, an interview with Pierre Pescatore, a member of the Luxembourg delegation, undertaken by Étienne Deschamps on 10 September 2003: “We had no aversion to integration, which one could still talk about at that time, but we were already allergic to the term supranationalism. With the condition of the state in France and with the failure of the EDC, we could no longer speak of the “supranational”: the word was taboo.” (Luxembourg, 10 September 2003),
  • [41]
    The Italian organizing committee had already established the conference program, constituted the six academic committees responsible for drawing up reports that would form the basis for the work of the congress, and established an ‘indicative’ list of guests invited to attend the event.
  • [42]
    Member of the High Authority, president of the “Press Information” working group.
  • [43]
    See Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ scientifique”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 2, 1976, 88-104.
  • [44]
    Hence the insistence of the High Authority on “preserving” the purely academic character of the event. J.-R. Rabier therefore opposed the idea that motions should be voted at the end of the congress: “In my view you could distort the character of this international congress of study by orienting its work towards the passing of resolutions. Such a practice is most unusual in academic conferences.” Extract from a letter of 26 November 1956 from J.-R. Rabier to E. Cortese Riva Palazzi, Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 29, document 96.
  • [45]
    Letter from J.-R. Rabier to E. Cortese Riva Palazzi, 12 January 1957, Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 30, document 5.
  • [46]
    The European University Professors Association, chaired by Alexandre Marc, was an offshoot of the Inter-University Federalist Union, founded in turn in 1949 by militant federalists and chaired by Mouskhély. Faced with “the weakness of European achievements in the cultural field”, its ambition was “to avoid the ‘technocratization’ of European institutions by strengthening the European spirit” (Archives de l’Union européenne, Florence, Alexandre Marc archive, AM000218). Unlike its predecessor, this association was not open to students. Its inaugural meeting was held in Trieste in 1955.
  • [47]
    Letter from J.-R. Rabier, 12 January 1957. The legal department thus, for example, hoped for the presence of Jacques Megret, Deputy Legal Adviser to the Council of Ministers of the ECSC, Maître Coutard, a lawyer to the Councils in Paris, who had represented the High Authority in several cases before the Court of Justice of the ECSC, or Jean de Soto, professor of law at Strasbourg, who had collaborated with Jean Coutard on various issues and who, through Coutard, was close to Michel Gaudet (the latter entrusted to him the drafting of an introductory text on the ECSC, commissioned by the PUF and published in 1956).
  • [48]
    This is confirmed, moreover, by Rabier himself in a note addressed to heads of ECSC divisions concerned with the organization of the Congress: “[during the Congress], the intervention of the High Authority will take the form of […] the presence, among the guests, of officials of the Community, and people, such as academics who have already expressed interest in the Community (members of the European University Professors Association…)” (Memo of 14 December 1956, sent by J.-R. Rabier to divisional heads involved in coordinating the dossier on the “Pella Congress”. Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 29, document 164).
  • [49]
    Letter from J.-R. Rabier of 12 January 1957.
  • [50]
    See Bernard Lavergne, “Le Plan Schuman: un coup d’épée dans l’eau ou la soviétisation camouflée des industries du charbon et de l’acier”, L’année politique et économique, 100-101, 1951, 77-182; and his L’armée dite européenne (Paris: Librairie de Médicis, 1952).
  • [51]
    Born in Ghent in 1891 and from a renowned family of international lawyers and politicians whose example he followed (one of his uncles, Gustave Rolin-Jacquemyns, Minister of the Interior, was one of founders of the IDI [Insitut de Droit International] at the turn of the century and founded the Revue de droit international; his father Albéric Rolin was President of the Bar Association, Professor of International Law, and Honorary President of the IDI), Henri Rolin is one of the great figures of Belgian international law between the two World Wars. He was particularly involved in the promotion of the League of Nations, at which he represented Belgium (between 1938 and 1939 he chaired the Union of Associations for the League of Nations). Former minister, and socialist senator since 1932, he was a member of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1950 and holder of the chair of the law of nations at the Free University of Brussels from 1932. In 1957, Henri Rolin, while not explicitly opposed to the project of a supranational Europe, was not really interested in the matter from a strictly academic point of view, preferring to leave exploration of this terra incognita to the younger generation.
  • [52]
    Born in Liege in 1906, Fernand Dehousse held the chair of international law at the University of Liege and was a socialist senator. A member of the UEF, from the beginning he was responsible for the work and deliberations of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and of the Common Assembly of the ECSC. He took a large role in the drafting of the project for a European Political Community in the ad hoc assembly between 1952 and 1953.
  • [53]
    Born in Liege in 1905, Baron Pierre Wigny was a doctor of law and held a degree from the International Institute of Private Law in Liege. A former minister (Minister of Colonies, 1947-1950) and Christian Democrat deputy, he was professor of constitutional law at the Catholic University of Louvain and member of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and of the Common Assembly of the ECSC.
  • [54]
    Born in 1906, Suzanne Bastid taught international law at the Faculty of Law, Paris. She was one of the signatories, on 2 June 1954, of a “consultation of six professors of public law on the subject of the European defense community” published by Le Monde, which, without directly questioning the political relevance of the treaty, argued that it was impossible to ratify without a constitutional amendment: they thereby provided legal arguments to the “anticédistes”. See Marc Milet, “Controverse doctrinale et engagement civique. Les publicistes français et la Communauté européenne de défense en 1954”, unpublished article; and, by the same author, “Les professeurs de droit citoyens. Entre ordre juridique et espace public, contribution à l’étude des interactions entre les débats et les engagements des juristes français (1914-1995)”, (PhD Dissertation, Université Paris IIPanthéon Assas, 2000).
  • [55]
    Born in 1913, René Roblot taught commercial law at the University of Nancy and the European University Centre of which he was secretary-general. This center, with the College of Bruges, was one of a few such institutions created at the margins of universities, in the wake of the Hague Congress, whose vocation was to “provide the cause of European unity with a fresh batch of militant elites” (“Résolution sur les questions culturelles”, The Hague Congress, 9 May 1948, cited by Jacqueline Lastenouse, “La Commission européenne et les études universitaires sur l’intégration européenne (1960-2000)”, unpublished article.) In this context, he enjoyed a very friendly relationship with Michel Gaudet, director of the Legal Service of the High Authority, who he regularly invited to give lectures (on this point see, inter alia, Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 27, document 12).
  • [56]
    Alain Pellet, “Cours d’humeur: les fondements juridiques internationaux du droit communautaire”, in Collected Courses of the Academy of European Law, 5(2) (Leiden: Kluwer, 1997), 193-271.
  • [57]
    On the construction, in the 1920s, of a universal international law, see Guillaume Sacriste and Antoine Vauchez, “Les ‘bons offices’ du droit international: la constitution d’une autorité non-politique dans le concert diplomatique des années 1920”, Critique internationale, 26, January 2005, 101-17.
  • [58]
    It will be noted in this connection that the professors mobilized to serve on the various academic committees did so in a formal setting that resembled that of a diplomatic conference, imposing the strictly equal representation of the member states: the academic committees were composed of eight members including a president, a rapporteur and six experts. Each member state was therefore represented by one of its citizens and, moreover, the committees were six in number so that each state could chair a committee and draft a report.
  • [59]
    I refer here to jurists such as Maurice Lagrange, Advocate General at the Court of Justice, Michel Gaudet and Robert Krawielicki, from the legal department of the High Authority, or else Albert Van Houtte, Clerk to the Court of Justice, but also to a number of Common Assembly members who practiced – or had previously practiced – the legal profession.
  • [60]
    P.-H. Teitgen, former president of the MRP (1952-1956), was a minister several times between 1945 and 1957. In 1957, he was a member of the Common Assembly and a professor of public law at the University of Rennes. Though he no longer taught and had not done so since 1944 he had come first in the 1934 competitive exam (agrégation).
  • [61]
    Bernard Lacroix and Jacques Lagroye, “Introduction”, in Bernard Lacroix and Jacques Lagroye (eds), Le président de la République: usages et genèses d’une institution (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 1992), 9.
  • [62]
    On the role of the IDI and the Academy of International Law at The Hague in the construction of the authority of international law see Sacriste and Vauchez, “Les ‘bons offices’…”.
  • [63]
    This was the case for Gaetano Morelli and Roberto Ago, among others, whose positions were somewhat ambiguous and who would both be members of the steering committee. Indeed, in the “General Course on International Public Law” he gave at The Hague Academy in 1956 (Recueil des Cours de l’Academie de Droit International (RCADI) 89(1), 1956, 557-83), Morelli opposed the use of the term “supranational” to describe the ECSC, preferring “supra-individual”, while recognizing the novelty of the internal legal order specific to the Community. The position of Roberto Ago was no less equivocal in so far as he stated, in a study of 1952, that “the structure of the ECSC […] differs markedly from those of regular international organizations, and presents the characteristics of a super-state institution, even if it operates in a specifically created field”, “Considerazioni su alcuni sviluppi dell’organizzazione internazionale”, La comunità internazionale 4, October 1952, 527-67. And if he declares himself “in favor of the notion of the supranational insofar as it indicates a certain degree of and a specific phase of international cooperation”, he states in the same intervention in 1955 that “it is not appropriate if by this we wish to mark the passage of relations within the Community from the international level to a constitutional level”. See Eugenio Greppi, “À propos du caractère supranational de la CECA. Récentes contributions scientifiques”, Les Cahiers de Bruges, 1, 1956, 29-30.
  • [64]
    See his speech on the occasion of the discussion that followed the report of the steering committee at Stresa: “The notion of supranationality represents something new in the national legal order, but politically speaking, it represents the dream of those who intend to save civilization and guarantee to all people the material and moral welfare to which they have an inalienable right”, in Actes officiels du congrès international d’études de la CECA, vol. 2 (Milan: Giuffrè, 1957): 394.
  • [65]
    In the summer of 1954, Charles Rousseau co-signed, with Paul Reuter and Georges Vedel, a letter attacking and substantively disagreeing with the legal consultation undertaken by the Six regarding the “constitutionality” of the EDC treaty. See “Une lettre de trois professeurs de droit public”, Le Monde, 9 June 1954, cited in Milet, “Controverse doctrinale”.
  • [66]
    Gouvernement des Pays-Bas (affaire 6/54), Rec., I, 232.
  • [67]
    This committee was made up of Verzijl, Paul Reuter, Roberto Ago, Helmut Ridder, and Fernand Dehousse.
  • [68]
    Paul de Visscher, son of Charles de Visscher, major Belgian figure in the field of international law of the inter-war period, was born in Oxford in 1916. He qualified as a professor of higher education in 1943, after defending a thesis on the conclusion of international treaties (De la Conclusion des traités internationaux, étude de droit constitutionnel comparé et de droit international [Bruxelles: Bruylant, 1943]). In 1957 he was Chair of the law of nations, constitutional law, administrative law and comparative constitutional law at the Faculty of Law and School of Political Science at the University of Louvain. He participated in the 1952 session of the Academy of International Law at The Hague, where his teaching focused on “International trends in modern constitutions” (RCADI, 80(1), 1952, 515-76) and was an associate member of IDI from 1954.
  • [69]
    J. Ganshof Van der Meersch, G. Door, J. Mast and P. de Visscher, “Nature juridique des traités qui créent des organisations supranationales. Avis donné au gouvernement belge au sujet des dispositions constitutionnelles qu’il y aurait lieu à réviser en vue de permettre l’adhésion de la Belgique à une Communauté supranationale”, Documents parlementaires (Belgique), Chambre des Représentants (1952-1953), 696.
  • [70]
    “The UN, however, is simply a political community of states. It is not a supranational community for this fundamental reason: that the decisions of UN bodies never have immediate and direct effects on individual subjects of member states”, Documents parlementaires (Belgique), Chambre des Représentants.
  • [71]
    “Beyond this exceptional and very limited case (mixed arbitrating tribunals set up after the First World War), the law of nations has offered, to date, no examples of genuine transfer of internal sovereignty, in other words, involving the transfer to a supranational authority of the power to compel and coerce states’ national subjects within a national territory. Thus the exercise of such power characterizes treaties creating supranational communities.” Documents parlementaires (Belgique), Chambre des Représentants.
  • [72]
    The second was none other than Paul Reuter, who in the same year published a monograph on the ECSC prefaced by Robert Schuman: La Communauté européenne du charbon et de l’acier (Paris: LGDJ, 1953).
  • [73]
    La Communauté européenne du charbon et de l’acier, par un groupe d’étude de l’Institut des relations internationales de Bruxelles (Paris: Armand Colin/Cahiers de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, 41, 1953).
  • [74]
    Ibid., 268.
  • [75]
    “We are already in touch with three out of six rapporteurs: de Visscher, Wengler and Reuter. Do you have a way of contacting Mr. Giovanni Demaria? It is a matter of quietly letting him know that we are available to him with a view to providing unpublished documentation to help him in the preparation of his report”, italics in the original, memo of 18 October 1956 from J.-R. Rabier to Alberto Campolongo (Italian member of the Economic Division of the High Authority), Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 29, document 74.
  • [76]
    Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 29, document 163.
  • [77]
    Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 30, document 37.
  • [78]
    He was also the author of one of the first works dedicated to the Court: Louis Delvaux, La Cour de justice de la Communauté européenne du charbon et de l’acier: exposé sommaire des principes (Paris: R. Pichon & R. Durand-Auzias, 1956).
  • [79]
    Letter dated 18 May 1957, Louis Delvaux to Walter Much (an official in the Legal Department of the High Authority), Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 30, document 213.
  • [80]
    Paul de Visscher, “La Communauté et les États membres” in Actes officiels du congrès international d’études de la Communauté européenne du charbon et de l’acier 1 (Milan: Giuffrè, 1957), 34.
  • [81]
    Immediacy is what is commonly referred to today as a “direct effect”. In other words, immediacy refers to the fact that the Community can directly act on subjects of member states without any mediation.
  • [82]
    P. de Visscher, “La Communauté et les États membres”, 32-3.
  • [83]
    “When relations between the member states themselves or with the bodies of the Community are governed by rules of law enacted by the organs of the Community under the Treaty, we must consider these rules as deriving from special international law instead of a sui generis category in between international law and domestic law”. P. de Visscher, “La Communauté et les États membres”, 36.
  • [84]
    Annotations by Michel Gaudet to draft report by Paul de Visscher, Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 31, document 27.
  • [85]
    Archives de l’Union européenne, Bruxelles, CEAB 1 31, document 28.
  • [86]
    See above, footnote 5, p. 76, and footnote 8, p. 77.
  • [87]
    On this point see Paul Reuter, “Organisations internationales et évolution du droit”, in L’évolution du droit public. Études offertes à Achille Mestre (Paris: Sirey, 1956), 447-59.
  • [88]
    P. de Visscher, “La Communauté et les États membres”, 35.
  • [89]
    Intervention by R. Ago, Actes officiels du congrès international d’études de la Communauté européenne du charbon et de l’acier, 406.
  • [90]
    French Councilor of State Maurice Lagrange, who was involved in drafting the articles of the Treaty of Paris on the Court of Justice, was indeed one of the first to articulate a series of arguments that demonstrated the supranational character – non-international and quasi-constitutional – of the ECSC and to publicize his position. In 1954 he published an article, “The Court of Justice of the ECSC”, in the Journal of Public Law, 2, 1954, 417-35. He also gave a lecture at the ENA on 24 November 1953, “Supranational powers in the framework of the ECSC, and their articulation”, and gave a course on the same theme at the Institute of International Studies at the University of Paris in 1955-1956.
  • [91]
    Maurice Lagrange, “L’ordre juridique de la CECA vu à travers la jurisprudence de sa Cour de justice”, Revue du droit public et de la science politique en France et à l’étranger, 5, 1958, 841-65.
  • [92]
    This note takes the form of a bibliography. Maurice Lagrange cites a series of books he considers to be “sources of primary importance for those interested in the problems of the ECSC”. “In addition to the classic works on the Community, foremost among which we must always place that of Paul Reuter”, it refers both to a number of contributions from the Stresa conference and to a list of books that complement those classics. We thus find grouped together the names of those who, at the Stresa conference or on other occasions, pledged allegiance to supranationalism, including, among others, René Roblot, Jean de Soto, Léontin Constantinesco, and Louis Delvaux (Lagrange, “L’ordre juridique de la CECA vu à travers la jurisprudence de sa Cour de justice”, 841-2).
  • [93]
    It is with the following words that Maurice Lagrange introduced his study: “What is the CECA? As we know, a great quarrel on this matter opposes those who could be called – with the inaccuracy arising from any simplification or label – the ‘internationalists’ and the ‘supranationalists’. […] This quarrel is the expression of two tendencies, if not two doctrines, which are sharply divergent.” (Lagrange, “L’ordre juridique de la CECA vu à travers la jurisprudence de sa Cour de justice”.)
  • [94]
    Lagrange, “L’ordre juridique de la CECA vu à travers la jurisprudence de sa Cour de justice”, 864-5. My emphasis.
  • [95]
    I thank Antonin Cohen, Bastien François, Guillaume Sacriste and Antoine Vauchez for their careful reading of a first version of this text.


The aim of this article is to question whether European Community law – as the legal framework for apprehending and legitimizing European integration – is “natural” by examining the period of its inception. By analyzing the first International Study Conference on the ECSC held in 1957 and the ensuing exchanges between policymakers and law professors, the author seeks, on the one hand, to bring to light the role European political institutions played in constructing an autonomous European juridical doctrine and, on the other, to highlight the limitations encountered in the use of law to legitimize a political project. Finally, this article points up the political and cognitive difficulties involved in the invention of a truly supranational law.

Julie Bailleux
Julie Bailleux is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne, and affiliated to the CESSP. She has a dual qualification in law and political science and is currently writing her doctoral dissertation in political science, on the invention of European law, under the supervision of Professor Bastien François. Her research is on the role of law and institutions in the construction of politics.
Translated from French by 
Simon Jackson
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