Jonas L. Pedersen – Københavns Universitet

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Jonas L. Pedersen

Receiving European Law: Denmark and the European Court of Justice, 1973-1998

This project will explore the administrative, legal and political history of Denmark’s reception of European law from the first day of membership to the Maastricht ruling of the Danish High Court in 1998. The project will address three major themes:

Firstly, Denmark’s implementation of European legislation will be analysed. Denmark has long been considered as one of the most diligent and effective implementers of European legislation. However, recent research has begun to question this assessment and has demonstrated how the administration occasionally limits the legal-political consequences of European legislation by covertly avoiding the most inconvenient elements. This project will explore the evolution of administrative procedures for implementing European law on the basis of relevant ministerial archives to test the validity of these claims.

Secondly, the project will trace how Danish courts have applied European law and in particular their comparatively infrequent use of the system of preliminary references under article ex-177. Decisions on whether courts should send preliminary references to Luxembourg were centralized in a ‘Judicial Committee’ established by the Ministry of Justice shortly after accession. This project will write the first history of the Judicial Committee, examining why and how the preliminary reference mechanism has been under-utilized in Denmark.

Thirdly, the project will map political, administrative and academic debates in Denmark about the constitutional practice promoted by the European Court of Justice. Particular attention will be paid to the extent to which these debates influenced the increasing polarized debate on the constitutionality of Danish membership of the European Union in the 1990s that eventually led to the Maastricht judgment of the Danish Supreme Court in 1998. Using the archives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, debates of the Danish parliament, newspapers, legal journals and the archive of the Danish Association of European Law, this project will be the first to explore this key question.