On Metaphor and Meaning: The Autonomy of EU Legal Order Through the Lens of Project and System

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction – II. Cultural analysis, metaphor and the imageries of project and system – III. Autonomy and project and system in EU law – III.1. The EU legal order as the ECJ's project to create a system – III.2. The EU legal order as construction and body – III.3. Autonomy as the immanent principle of EU legal order – IV. The autonomy of EU legal order and the tension between project and system – IV.1. Autonomy and the presumed compatibility of telos, ethos and system – IV.2. The incompatibility of autonomy as project and system – V. Conclusion

Abstract: This Article examines the understanding of EU legal order that underpins the concept of the autonomy of EU legal order. Building on the work of the American constitutional scholar Paul Kahn, this Article argues that the EU legal order can be understood as either project or system. From the perspective of project, the autonomy of EU legal order is the necessary means to realise the values and objectives the EU pursues, but from the perspective of system, the autonomy of EU legal order is an end in itself. By making this tension explicit, this Article hopes to cast doubt on the claim that autonomy operates in complete harmony with the telos the EU pursues and the ethos on which it is founded. Autonomy will only express a telos or ethos if these align with the preservation of the systemic integrity of the EU legal order. There thus exist no necessary relationship between the autonomy of the EU legal order and the objectives and values it pursues, but only a contingent one.

Keywords: autonomy – Court of Justice – cultural study of law – metaphor – monism – immanent principle.

European Papers, Vol. 8, 2023, No 3, pp. 1441-1464
ISSN 2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/724

* PhD Candidate, London School of Economics, j.j.van-de-beeten@lse.ac.uk.


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