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Who Cares About Nationality? The Path-dependent Case Law of the ECJ from Goods to Citizens

Thursday March 10, 2011, from 14:00 to 16:00
Room 4 - IBEI
Research seminar
Susanne K. Schmidt (Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences)


The role that the ECJ plays for European integration has been much discussed by political scientists. Less is known about how case law develops. In this article, I give a historical-institutionalist account, arguing that path-dependency explains its course. Litigants provide positive feedback in this process, aiming to strengthen their rights by transferring legal arguments from one area to the next, leading to a convergent interpretation of the different freedoms. The paper traces this development, analyzing how legal arguments were transferred from goods markets to the free movement of workers and citizenship, as a result of positive feedback to a distinct legal interpretation. I discard alternative explanations that explain case law by drawing on the preferences of Member states or judges.

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