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Euratom Before the Court: A Political Theory of Legal Non-Integration

Keywords: court politics , functionalism , integration theory , intergovernmentalism , negative integration , neo-functionalism , positive integration , regulatory competition , sectoral governance , preliminary rulings , energy policy , founding Treaties , European Court of Justice , European Court of Justice , law , political science

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This paper mainly explores how law-based neo-functionalism can contribute to explain the legal development of the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) in the last decades. The neo-functionalist approach developed by Burley (Slaughter) and Mattli in the 1990s expects spill-overs because it assumes that subnational actors try to overcome national law in order to pursue their interests by means of preliminary proceedings before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). It also presumes political dynamics as a consequence of a general strategy of the European Commission to widen the scope of the EAEC’s and/or its competences by means of actions against member states. By analysing ECJ case law on Euratom, the paper shows that the mechanisms and phenomena highlighted by this particular neo-functionalist approach do not occur in the case of the EAEC. It is concluded that a revised version of law-based neo-functionalism which takes into account, inter alia, context factors such as the interdependence of deregulation and reregulation is likely to have more explanatory power


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