Approach to European Law in Norwegian Legal Doctrine

Evaluating the influx of Europe on Norwegian legal doctrine, this article maintains that import of European legal traditions has a long pedigree in Norway. While fluctuating through history, however, Europeanization has taken on a new dimension during the last decade, with the growth of supranational Community law and human rights principles.

ARENA Working Paper 18/2003 (pdf)

Hans Petter Graver

This paper discusses European influence on Norwegian legal doctrine in a historical and scholar perspective. Legal relations to Europe are perhaps more conspicuous today than ever before, represented by Community law as well as the European convention of human rights. However, Norwegian juridical scholars have always looked to Europe for juridical principles and precedence. As shown in the article, transitions in legal doctrine occur slowly and in accordance with broader economic and political forces. Up till 1945, Norwegian juridical tradition drew upon various European influences, German-continental Roman law as well as (more fundamentally) the constitutional principles laid down in the USA and France. Interestingly, in the postwar decades Norwegian juridical scholars pursued a choice of autonomy and isolation. Thus, in a period where internationalization was the common trait in the political, economic and military doctrine, the scholarship of public law represented a counteracting trend. This apparent anomaly may be explained not primarily by a nation-building project but rather by the strong influence of Scandinavian legal realism. While commercial and private law continued to develop along Europeanized lines, public law was thus national or Nordic in its perspective.

Finally, with the 1990s the scope and speed of Europeanization took on a different speed and ambition. Where exchange and export of legal principles had been the rule, supranational harmonization of principles started to take over. This introduces new issues of legitimacy and judicial adaptation – and a bold step towards a Europe united in judicial principles. Hitherto, however, Community law remains insufficiently exhaustive to enforce a fully coherent European legal doctrine.

Tags: Europeanization, law, national autonomy , fundamental/human rights
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM