Integration through Law - The History of the European Court of Justice, 1950-1993

Name of applicant

Morten Rasmussen


University of Copenhagen


DKK 830,236



Type of grant

Monograph Fellowships


The aim of the project is to produce the first historical monograph on what is arguably the most important international court of the Twentieth Century - the European Court of Justice - from its foundation in 1950 to the establishment of the European Union in 1993. Through the systematic analysis of the new institutional archive of the court (opened in 2021) as well as numerous other European, national and private archives, the monograph will offer the first well documented institutional history of the court.


Legal and social science scholarship has analysed the role played by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the process of European integration for more than fifty years. However, despite intense scholarly interest in European law, the Court as an institution remains an enigma. Due to the secrecy of the deliberations of the bench, the ECJ has until now been hermetically closed to researchers. As a result, the role of the ECJ in the development of European law has been analysed from the outside. With the opening of the institutional archive of the ECJ, it is finally possible to go beyond the state of the art and produce the first institutional history of the Court.


Historical methodology and archival research are at the centre of the project. Archival sources allow us to go behind the closed doors into the chambers where European law was produced, far from the public eye. It is here that the intimate links between European law and the broader social, economic, political, and institutional contexts can be traced and properly understood. A historical narrative based on systematic archival research thus holds the promise of qualitatively improving our empirical understanding of the history of European law and offers an exciting new basis for interdisciplinary dialogue.

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