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‘Re‐reading’ Dassonville : meaning and understanding in the history of European law.

Schutze, Robert (2018) '‘Re‐reading’ Dassonville : meaning and understanding in the history of European law.', European law journal., 24 (6). pp. 376-407.


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.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Schutze, Robert (2018). ‘Re‐reading’ Dassonville: Meaning and Understanding in the History of European Law. European Law Journal 24(6): 376-407, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:13 July 2018
Date deposited:17 July 2018
Date of first online publication:24 August 2018
Date first made open access:24 August 2020

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