Bruno de Witte: “From the Hills of Fiesole – What the European University Institute Did for European Constitutional Law”
The title of this article refers to a passage in the book Brokering Europe by Antoine Vauchez who wrote that ‘the reinvention [of European law] that we can conveniently place under the banner the “constitutionalization of Europe” flourished most particularly in the hills of Fiesole between Badia Fiesolana and the Villa Schifanoia, the home of the law department of the European University Institute (EUI) since its creation in 1976.’ The task I set myself in this article is to reflect briefly on the contributions made by legal scholars based at the EUI to ‘European Constitutional Imaginaries’, that is, to thinking about European integration as a constitutional project. The article seeks to provide a general view of those contributions during the 30 year-period between 1980 and 2010. Its focus on constitutional law scholarship means that it does not deal with the important work done at the EUI in various fields of substantive European Union (EU) law (including in particular competition law and labour law, areas for which dedicated chairs existed for most of those 30 years) or in the field of EU administrative law, even though much of this work occasionally had constitutional law dimensions or connotations. The general view underlying my article is that there never was a real ‘Florence school’ of European law, but rather a variety of scholars interested in different topics, performing different academic roles and using different research methods. Still, it is possible to identify five topics that were the object of collective endeavours, that is, constitutional law themes or approaches attracting groups of EUI members (both professors and other researchers) for a certain period of time, rather than the one-off contributions by individual scholars. The following pages are a tentative effort at identifying five of those themes, and at describing the main actors and their contributions for each of them. In roughly chronological order, these themes are: the (alleged) contribution of the Integration-through-Law project to the narrative of the constitutionalization of EU law; the law-in-context approach to the study of EU constitutional law; the participation of EUI members to constitutional engineering for the EU; theoretical reflections on the place of the European Union within the world of constitutionalism; and the impact of enlargement on EU constitutionalism.
You can download the working paper at the SSRN.