The General Principles of European Community Law in a Process of Development


In 1999 the Swedish Network for European Legal Studies arranged its first conference on the General principles of Community law in Malmö. The purpose was to give an overview of the general principles with a specific emphasis on their possible role in the creation of a jus commune europaeum. One of the major themes of the conference was to analyse the impact of these principles at the national level or, in other words, how they are “travelling back” from EU law to the national systems. The purpose was also to provide a “framework of understanding” of their creative process. Therefore, issues such as the judicial activism of the Court, use of the comparative methodology and the gap-filling function of the principles were taken into account.


This year the Swedish Network aims to continue the path opened by the 1999 conference in light of the recent developments. During those seven years, we have been witnessing a constitutionalisation of the EU legal order through the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and also the passionate debate on the Constitutional Treaty. Interestingly, the general principles of Community Law appear to be crucial to this evolution. Indeed, it may be argued that the Charter of Fundamental Rights constitutes a codification of most of the general principles of Community law. Also, the Constitutional Treaty has re-launched many questions normally related to the general principles, such as the accession of the EU to the European Convention of Human Rights. Finally, it is worth remarking that the case-law of the ECJ has been particularly rich. New legal issues have been decided by the ECJ, such as the use of fundamental rights for derogating from the market freedoms. This is illustrated by the Schmidberger and Omega cases. Going further, even the boundaries of the general principles have been extended with the Pupino case.


The developments mentioned above have raised a number of new issues which will be at the heart of this conference. Are there any general principles of EU law and, if so, what developments have we seen in recent case-law from the European Court of Justice? Hopefully the discussions in this conference will give fuel to further debate in the area. Thus, we want to invite you to this conference.