Are the trade philosophies behind the EU internal market and the WTO international market converging or diverging; and are we, or are we not, moving towards a ‘common law of international trade’? Twenty years ago, an interesting—and swiftly famous—answer to this question was given by Joseph H.H. Weiler. Studying the ‘constitution of the common market’, the historical evolution of free movement law is here divided into five periods or generations. The underlying Weiler thesis is thereby as simple as it is beautiful: starting with an early radical philosophy in Dassonville, the European Union has gradually and consistently moved away from its original hyper-liberal approach towards an ever more deferential approach; and the transformation of Article 34 TFEU into a discrimination format ultimately leads to a convergence with international law. What are the empirical and normative credentials of this stylised construction of the internal market? This article argues that there are fundamental shortcomings in this standard interpretation of the evolution of the internal market, and that a historical reconstruction arrives at a very different empirical and normative picture. What can this ‘revisionist’ result mean for EU law scholarship in general? If EU constitutionalism wishes to ‘re-constitute’ its object of study properly, it needs to abandon the abstract ways of philosophizing that have become commonplace in the last 25 years. Part and parcel of this methodological renaissance must be a renewed commitment to test (constitutional) theory against (judicial) practice.
Schütze, R. (2020). “Re-Constituting” the Internal Market: Towards a Common Law of International Trade?. Yearbook of European Law, 39, 250-292. https://doi.org/10.1093/yel/yeaa005