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The Making of an Imagined ‘Community of Law’: Law, Market and Democracy in the Early Constitutional Imaginaries of European Integration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 March 2022

Hugo Canihac*
Hugo Canihac is FRS-FNRS Postdoctoral researcher, Saint-Louis University, Brussels.


Invention and promotion of the concept of ‘Community of law’ in the EEC – The role and thought of Walter Hallstein – Moving beyond the traditional opposition between ‘constitutionalists’ and ‘internationalists’ – The diversity and struggles among the ‘constitutionalists’ – Constitutional imaginaries as different conceptions of the relation of law, market, and democracy – Social processes at work in the elaboration of a transnational constitutional imaginary – Political and academic making of the imaginary of the ‘Community of law’

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of European Constitutional Law Review

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1 For instance, see this note drafted by the Research service of the European Parliament (2017): ⟨⟩, visited 11 March 2022.

2 ECJ 23 April 1986, Case C-294/83, Les Verts v Parliament, ECLI:EU:C:1986:166.

3 On this archetypal divide, see B. Davies, Resisting the European Court of Justice: West Germany’s Confrontation with European Law 1949–1979 (Cambridge University Press 2012); L. van Middelaar, ‘Spanning the River: The Constitutional Crisis of 1965–1966 as the Genesis of Europe’s Political Order’, 4 EuConst (2008) p. 98; J. Bailleux, ‘Comment l’Europe vint au Droit: le Premier Congrès International d’études de la CECA (Milan-Stresa 1957)’, 60 Revue Française de Science Politique (2010) p. 295.

4 On these shortcomings, see A. von Bogdandy, ‘Ways to Frame the European Rule of Law: Rechtsgemeinschaft, Trust, Revolution, and Kantian Peace’, 14 EuConst (2018) p. 675.

5 J. White, Politics of Last Resort: Governing by Emergency in the European Union (Oxford University Press 2019).

6 For a general discussion of this concept, see J. Komárek, ‘European Constitutional Imaginaries: Utopias, Ideologies and the Other’, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2020-88, available at ⟨⟩, visited 11 March 2022.

7 Understood as a special case of social imaginaries: C. Taylor, ‘Modern Social Imaginaries’, 14 Public Culture (2002) p. 91.

8 A. Boerger and M. Rasmussen, ‘Transforming European Law: The Establishment of the Constitutional Discourse from 1950 to 1993’, 10 EuConst (2014) p. 200.

9 M. Antaki, ‘The Turn to Imagination in Legal Theory: The Re-Enchantment of the World?’, 23 Law and Critique (2012) p. 8-9.

10 P.L. Berger and T. Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (Anchor Books 1990) p. 79.

11 B. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Verso 1983).

12 O. Angeli, ‘Global Constitutionalism and Constitutional Imagination’, 6 Global Constitutionalism (2017) p. 359.

13 M. Loughlin, ‘The Constitutional Imagination’, 78 The Modern Law Review (2015) p. 11.

14 A. Vauchez, Brokering Europe: Euro-Lawyers and the Making of a Transnational Polity (Cambridge University Press 2015); A. Boerger and M. Rasmussen, ‘Transforming European Law: The Establishment of the Constitutional Discourse from 1950 to 1993’, 10 EuConst (2014) p. 199; K. Alter, Establishing the Supremacy of European Law: The Making of an International Rule of Law in Europe (Oxford University Press 2001).

15 On this dimension, see E. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton University Press 2016).

16 As Charles Taylor puts it, ‘what start off as theories held by a few people may come to infiltrate the social imaginary, first that of elites, perhaps, and then of society as a whole’: Taylor, supra n. 7, p. 106.

17 I borrow this idea from B. Latour, Science in Action (Harvard University Press 1987).

18 W. Loth et al., Walter Hallstein : The Forgotten European? (MacMillan 1998).

19 I. Piela, Walter Hallstein – Jurist Und Gestaltender Europapolitiker Der Ersten Stunde (BWV 2012).

20 W. Wessels, ‘Walter Hallstein’s Contribution to Integration Theory: Outdated or Underestimated?’, in Loth et al., supra n. 18, p. 229; I. Pernice, ‘Der Beitrag Walter Hallstein Zur Zukunft Europas’, WHI Papers 9/01 (2001).

21 J. White, ‘Theory Guiding Practice: The Neofunctionalists and the Hallstein EEC Commission’, 9 Journal of European Integration History (2003) p. 111.

22 Vauchez, supra n. 14.

23 J. Baquero Cruz, What’s Left of the Law of Integration? Decay and Resistance in European Union Law (Oxford University Press 2018).

24 Essentially from the German Federal archives kept in Koblenz (Walter Hallstein Nachlass). Archives from the Historical Archives of European Integration, in Florence, and the Historical Archives of the European Parliament, in Luxembourg, have also been used.

25 S.C. Neff, Justice among Nations: A History of International Law (Harvard University Press 2014).

26 M. Koskenniemi, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law, 1870–1960 (Cambridge University Press 2001).

27 H.-P. Haferkamp, ‘The Science of Private Law and the State in Nineteenth Century Germany’, 56 The American Journal of Comparative Law (2008) p. 667.

28 J.-M. Guieu, ‘State Sovereignty in Question: The French Jurists between the Reorganization of the International System and European Regionalism, 1920–1950’, in J. Wright and H.S. Jones (eds.), Pluralism and the Idea of the Republic in France (Palgrave Macmillan 2014) p. 215.

29 W. Lipgens, 45 Jahre Ringen Um Die Europäische Verfassung (Europa Union Verlag 1986).

30 M. Burgess, Federalism and European Union the Building of Europe, 1950–2000 (Routledge 2000); B. Vayssiere, Vers Une Europe Fédérale?: Les Espoirs et Les Actions Fédéralistes au Sortir de La Seconde Guerre Mondiale (Peter Lang 2007).

31 Burgess, supra n. 30; A. Ballangé, La Démocratie Communautaire. Pour Une Généalogie Critique de l’Union Européenne (Éditions de la Sorbonne 2022).

32 Ballangé, supra n. 31, Ch. 4.

33 Mouvement Européen, ‘Commission des juristes’, FD-89, Historical Archive of European Integration (HAEI), Florence.

34 Lipgens, supra n. 29.

35 Burgess, supra n. 30, p. 5.

36 A. Spinelli and E. Rossi, The Ventotene Manifesto (Altiero Spinelli Institute for Federalist Studies 1988).

37 Comité d’Action pour la Communauté Supranationale Européenne, Cahiers Européens, 4, April 1953, DOC/ME-27, HAEI, Florence.

38 Ballangé, supra n. 31, p. 90.

39 Burgess, supra n. 30, p. 225; B. Vayssiere, ‘Alexandre Marc: les Idées Personnalistes au Service de l’Europe’, in Milieux, Réseaux et Personnalités Porteurs de Projets d’unité Européenne (Peter Lang 2001).

40 Spinelli and Rossi, supra n. 36, p. 35.

41 C. Joerges, ‘Europe a Grossraum ? Shifting Legal Conceptualisations of the Integration Project’, in Darker Legacies of Law in Europe (Hart Publishing 2003).

42 H.-P. Ipsen, Europäisches Gemeinschaftsrecht (Mohr-Siebeck 1972).

43 Ipsen, supra n. 42, p. 63.

44 Ipsen, supra n. 42, p. 981.

45 Ipsen, supra n. 42, p. 9.

46 Veröffentlichungen der Vereinigung der Deutschen Staatsrechtslehrer, Tagung zu Erlangen vom 7. Bis 9. Oktober 1959 (Vereinigung der Deutschen Staatsrechtslehrer 1960) p. 86-87.

47 E.B. Haas, ‘International Integration: The European and the Universal Process’, in Limits and Problem of European Integration (Martinus Nijhoff 1963) p. 366.

48 M. Rasmussen and D.S. Martinsen, ‘EU Constitutionalisation Revisited: Redressing a Central Assumption in European Studies’, 25 European Law Journal (2019) p. 251.

49 White, supra n. 21.

50 Wessels, supra n. 20, p. 229.

51 W. Hallstein, ‘Von Der Sozialisierung Des Privatrechts’, 102 Zeitschrift Für Die Gesamte Staatswissenschaft (1942) p. 530.

52 W. Hallstein, ‘Wiederherstellung des Privatrechts’, 1 Süddeutsche Juristen-Zeitung (1946).

53 L. Lahn, ‘Walter Hallstein as State Secretary’, in Loth et al., supra n. 18, p. 17.

54 ‘Compte rendu de l’entretien de Paul Leroy-Beaulieu avec Konrad Adenauer sur la composition de la délégation allemande lors des négociations sur le plan Schuman’, 16 June 1950, Fondation Jean Monnet pour l’Europe, Lausanne, AMG. 2/3/19 and 2/3/20.

55 Lahn, supra n. 53, p. 20 The quote, from a text of Hallstein on Adenauer (Walter Hallstein, ‘Mein Chef Adenauer’, Sonderdruck der Europäischen Gemeinschaften, 12/1975), deserves to be quoted in full: ‘When we saw each other [Adenauer and Hallstein] the following week [after Adenauer hired him as a State secretary], he said he wanted me to keep my chair at Frankfurt University so that after he retired I would not be compelled to wait on a new master whom I found disagreeable. I agreed with this – but for a different reason – so that the Chancellor would be able to rid himself of me when he had enough of me. Yet neither situation arose’.

56 Davies, supra n. 3.

57 W. Hallstein, Europäische Reden (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1979) p. 79.

58 Ibid., p. 72.

59 W. Hallstein, ‘Die EWG – Eine Rechtsgemeinschaft’, Ehrenpromotion, Universität Padua, 12/03/1962’, in Hallstein, supra n. 57.

60 W. Hallstein, Europe in the Making (George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1972) p. 30.

61 J. Meierhenrich, The Remnants of the Rechtsstaat: An Ethnography of Nazi Law (Oxford University Press 2018).

62 Hallstein, supra n. 60, p. 34.

63 Pernice, supra n. 20.

64 Wessels, supra n. 20.

65 Davies, supra n. 3.

66 H. Canihac, ‘From Nostalgia to Utopia: A Genealogy of French Conceptions of Supranationality (1848–1948)’, 17 Modern Intellectual History (2020) p. 707.

67 Koskenniemi, supra n. 26, Ch. 4.

68 Hallstein, supra n. 60, p. 30.

69 Hallstein, supra n. 60, p. 30.

70 W. Hallstein, Der Unvollendete Bundesstaat (Econ 1969) p. 20.

71 White, supra n. 21.

72 See S. Korioth, ‘Rudolf Smend’, in Weimar: A Jurisprudence of Crisis (University of California Press 2000).

73 W. Hallstein, ‘Die EWG – Eine Rechtsgemeinschaft, Ehrenpromotion, Universität Padua, 12/03/1962’, p. 347.

74 C.F. Ophüls, ‘Juristische Grundgedanken Des Schumanplans’, Neue Juristische Wochenschrift (1951).

75 W. Hallstein, ‘Europäische Integration Als Verfassungsproblem’, Haus Rissen, Hamburg, 29/07/1958’, in Hallstein, supra n. 57, p. 79-80.

76 Hallstein, supra n. 60, p. 29.

77 F.A. Hayek, ‘The Economic Conditions of Interstate Federalism’, V(2) New Commonwealth Quarterly (1939) p. 131.

78 F. Böhm, ‘Privatrechtsgesellschaft und Marktwirtschaft’, 17 ORDO: Jahrbuch Für Die Ordnung von Wirtschaft Und Gesellschaft (1966).

79 See W. Hallstein, ‘Von der Sozialisierung des Privatrechts’, 102(3) Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft (1942) p. 537.

80 Hallstein, supra n. 60, p. 28.

81 D. Koerfer, ‘Zankapfel Europapolitik : Der Kompetenzstreit 57/58’, 29 Politische Vierteljahresschrift (1988).

82 J.B. Cruz, What’s Left of the Law of Integration? Decay and Resistance in European Union Law (Oxford University Press 2018).

83 ‘Über die soziale und politische Verantwortung der deutschen Hochschulen’ (1944) Walter Hallstein Nachlass, N1266/271, Bundesarchiv, Koblenz.

84 The following paragraphs are based on the following documents: ‘University reforms’ (1947), Walter Hallstein Nachlass,1266/1660, Bundesarchiv, Koblenz; ‘“Wissenschaft und Politik”, Rede anläßlich der Festveranstaltung’ (1948), Walter Hallstein Nachlass,1266/1675, Bundesarchiv, Koblenz; ‘The law and democratic man’ (Chicago 1949), Walter Hallstein Nachlass, N1266/1694 : Gastprofessur an der Georgetown-University, Washington D.C., Bundesarchiv, Koblenz.

85 ‘Fortentwicklung des Instituts für Rechtsvergleichung an der Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität zu einem Institut für europäisches Wirtschaftsrecht’, 1951, N 1266/240, Bundesarchiv, Koblenz.

86 ‘Télégramme à M. Donnedieu de Vabres’, 5 March 1958, 248OQ 175-177: Université Européenne, ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Archives Diplomatiques, La Courneuve.

87 M. Rasmussen, ‘Establishing a Constitutional Practice of European Law: The History of the Legal Service of the European Executive’, 21(3) Contemporary European History (2012) p. 375.

88 F. Krumbein, ‘Die Geschichte der Deutschen Europawissenschaften im Arbeitskreis Europäische Integration’, 1 Integration (2014).

89 G. Sacriste, ‘L’Europe est-elle un État comme les autres ? Retour sur la distinction public/privé au sein de la commission juridique du Parlement européen des années 1960’, 85–86 Cultures & Conflits (2012) p. 35.

90 Common Assembly of the ECSC, ‘Compte-Rendu Intégral, Séance du 27 Février 1958’, 1958, p. 408.

91 European Parliamentary Assembly, ‘Compte-Rendu Intégral, Séance du 27 Juin 1960’, 1958, p. 21.

92 See Vauchez, supra n. 14.

93 European Parliament, ‘Compte-Rendu Intégral des Débats au Parlement Européen, Séances des 16, 17 et 18 Juin 1965’ (Office des publications officielles des Communautés européennes, 1965), Historical Archive of the European Parliament, p. 247.

94 Vauchez, supra n. 14. For a recent reassessment of the traditional narrative, though, see Rasmussen and Martinsen, supra n. 48.

95 Its first official use in the Court’s proceedings (in German) appears to be in the Judgment of the Court of 18 May 1982, Rezguia Adoui v Belgian State and City of Liège, ECLI:EU:C:1982:183. The importance of such occurrences should not be overestimated, but it still is worth noting.

96 For instance, R. Pinto, Les Organisations Européenne (Payot 1963).

97 See J. Grunwald, ‘Die EG als Rechtsgemeinschaft’, in M. Röttinger (ed.), Handbuch Der Europäischen Integration : Strategie - Struktur - Politik Im EG-Binnenmarkt (Manz 1991).

98 E. Stein, ‘Lawyers, Judges, and the Making of a Transnational Constitution’; J.H.H. Weiler, ‘The Transformation of Europe’, 100 The Yale Law Journal (1991) p. 2403.