The European Court and Integration

Alec Stone Sweet and Thomas Brunell

in On Law, Politics, and Judicialization

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199256488
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600234 | DOI:
The European Court and Integration

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To sustain a viable social science of law and courts, testable propositions, appropriate research designs for testing those hypotheses, and comparative materials are needed; Ch. 4, and the two papers within it, discuss and use three strategies for building theory through testing and comparing. This second paper, which was originally published in the American Political Science Review in 1998, employs econometric and other modes of statistical analysis as well as qualitative ‘process tracing’ to evaluate specific causal propositions about how European Community (EC) integration and the construction of the European legal system (as enforced by the European Court of Justice) have proceeded. The research design constitutes a mixed means of testing: (1) deductive derivation of hypotheses from materials developed in prior comparative research, (2) collection of data to operationalize the theorized variables, (3) testing of the hypotheses through quantitative data analysis, and (4) cross-checking of these results and exploration of other theorized relationships or dynamics (qualitatively). The research leads Stone Sweet and Brunell to propose a theory of European legal integration (i.e. the process by which Europe has constructed a transnational rule-of-law polity), which integrates three interdependent causal factors: contracting among individuals, third-party dispute resolution, and the production of legal norms. The theory is tested, with reference to the EC, in two stages: first, the construction of the legal system is explained and the relationships between the three key variables are analysed over the life of the EC; second, the impact of the operation of the legal system is examined on governance (i.e. on policy processes and outcomes) at both the national and the supranational levels.

Keywords: comparison; contracting among individuals; courts; European Community; European Court of Justice; European legal integration; European legal system; governance; law; legal norms; national governance; prediction; social science; supranational governance; testing; third-party dispute resolution

Chapter.  14275 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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