There are few ‘mythical’ judgments that every student of European integration has read or ought to have read. Dassonville is one of these judgments. The Court here makes one of its ‘most famous pronouncement[s] ever’; and yet very little historical research on where the Dassonville formula came from and what it was intended to mean in 1974 has yet been undertaken. The conventional wisdom holds that the Court offered a hyper‐liberalist definition of the European internal market, which radically dissociated itself from the conceptual shackles accepted in modern international trade law. According to this view, Dassonville represents the substantive law equivalent of Van Gend en Loos. This traditional view, it will be argued, is simply not borne out by the historical facts. A contextual interpretation indeed shows a very different meaning of Dassonville; and a closer author‐centric analysis reveals a very different understanding of the Dassonville formula in its historical context.
Schutze, R. (2018). ‘Re‐reading’ Dassonville: Meaning and Understanding in the History of European Law. European Law Journal: Review of European Law in Context, 24(6), 376-407. https://doi.org/10.1111/eulj.12290