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The Power of Law in Europe

Series of lectures by Perry Anderson

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Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 by Sarah Zingraff

Summary

Few attributes are more important to the European Union than that of Rechtsstaat. The connotations of the term are both internal and external: it can refer either to the supremacy of law within its own borders, or to its respect for international law beyond them. Historically, the “law of nations”, as it was originally called, predates the jurisprudence of the Union, a relatively recent creation, by many centuries. At its centre lay a concern with the regulation of armed conflicts between peoples and States: relationships of power traditionally settled by war. What is the bearing of these on a contemporary political system priding itself on its commitment to peace? This series of lectures will look, in turn, at the origins and evolution of the law of nations in Europe; at the origins and nature of law within a Union that defines itself as neither national nor international; at the kinds and results of the ensuing statecraft and democratic will-formation; and in conclusion, at the historical juncture of the Union at the time of war in Ukraine.

Announcement

Argument

Few attributes are more important to the European Union than that of Rechtsstaat. The connotations of the term are both internal and external: it can refer either to the supremacy of law within its own borders, or to its respect for international law beyond them. Historically, the “law of nations”, as it was originally called, predates the jurisprudence of the Union, a relatively recent creation, by many centuries. At its centre lay a concern with the regulation of armed conflicts between peoples and States: relationships of power traditionally settled by war. What is the bearing of these on a contemporary political system priding itself on its commitment to peace? This series of lectures will look, in turn, at the origins and evolution of the law of nations in Europe; at the origins and nature of law within a Union that defines itself as neither national nor international; at the kinds and results of the ensuing statecraft and democratic will-formation; and in conclusion, at the historical juncture of the Union at the time of war in Ukraine.

Biography

Perry Anderson, of Anglo-Irish extraction, was educated in the United Kingdom at Eton and Oxford. He is a Research Professor in History at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the United States. He has taught widely in Latin America, lectured in Russia, China and India, and held fellowships in Italy, Germany and France. His main fields of interest are State structures and political ideas. In the first he has published works on classical, feudal and absolutist systems of power; in the second, on theories of justice, equality, hegemony, modernity and postmodernity. Two of his books deal directly with the European Union: The New Old World (2009) and Ever Closer Union? (2021).

Program

1/ October, 5

From Jus Gentium to the United Nations

Where and how did the ideas of a jus gentium arise in the early modern epoch: on the battle-fields of continental Europe, or in the European encounter with the rest of the world? Tracing the concerns of leading jurists from the time of Charles V to that of the French Revolution, when Bentham coined the modern locution “international law”, and the subsequent evolution of this concept into the Victorian age, through the Belle Époque, past the First World War and into the time of the League of Nations, the first lecture ends by considering the consequences of the Second World War for this tradition. What did the creation of the United Nations in 1945 mean for the standing of Europe as the fountainhead of international law, and what lessons does its history hold for us today?

2/ October, 12

Integration and Justice in Europe

Contemporary European law forms a sui generis system, which its jurisconsults distinguish both from legislation enacted by Nation States and from international agreements to which Nation States subscribe. By contrast with either of these, it is closer in nature – if not in word, the term avoided – to a supranational constitution binding the member States of the Union together in a single polity. Looking at the role of the European Court of Justice created by the Treaty of Rome in subsequent interpretations of it, the second lecture considers how far this conception corresponds to the Treaty or to the intentions of its signatories, and asks what light recent challenges to the Court’s decisions throw on the form of the European Union as a whole.

3/ October, 19

Routes and Forms of the Rule of Law

With what political or juridical precedents is the process of European unification best compared? Do the experiences of constructing modern Nation-States in Europe – or beyond it – supply appropriate precedents, once scaled up to multi-national level? Or is the European Union, as it has gradually taken shape, essentially sui generis as a polity, without relevant counterparts in constitutional development anywhere else in the world? If the history of State-making in the Old World appears very different from the evolution of the European Union in the paths each has taken and the upshot at which they have arrived, does the emergence in the epoch of the Enlightenment of a continental federation in the New World offer the most instructive lesson for a post-modern Europe? Answers to these questions raise issues of decisional statecraft and democratic will-formation on both sides of the Atlantic that have yet to command any consensus.

4/ October, 26

Integration and Justice in Europe

It is consensual in the literature on European construction, from the Schuman Plan of 1950 to the Next Generation Plan of 2020, that among its greatest achievements has been the establishment of a lasting peace in Europe, closing the record of internecine conflicts that precipitated the disasters of two World Wars. Since 2020, however, a major war has broken out within Europe once again: in the Ukraine, one of the classic battlefields of both World Wars, where armies of the Central Powers and the Entente, of the Third Reich and USSR, confronted each other in bitter fighting. How far does the present war across the same plains represent a completely new departure, historically speaking? Alternatively, are there any analogies of significance with events either of the second or of the fifth decade of the last century? The closure of the long continental peace since 1945 signals a quite new challenge in the trajectory of European construction. How far is it likely to offer an opportunity to build not only a wider, but a stronger and deeper European Union?

Places

  • Horaire : 17H - Salle 2 - Collège de France 11 place Marcelin-Berthelot
    Paris, France (75005)

Event format

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Wednesday, October 05, 2022
  • Wednesday, October 12, 2022
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2022
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Attached files

Keywords

  • europe, paix ,ordre européen, union européenne, sécurité, défense

Contact(s)

  • Sabine Cassard
    courriel : sabine [dot] cassard [at] college-de-france [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Sabine Cassard
    courriel : sabine [dot] cassard [at] college-de-france [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« The Power of Law in Europe », Lecture series, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, https://calenda.org/1016733

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