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Sources on the History of European Law

Logo - Danish Agency for Science..The research project ‘Towards a New History of European Public Law’ funded by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation and placed at the University of Copenhagen ( has produced a new body of historical literature dealing with the history of European public law from 1950 to 1993. Part of the project has been to collect new archival sources on the history of European public law and to produce oral history sources on the Legal Service of the European Commission from 1958 to 1986.

The Historical Archives of the European Union has partnered in this project on the history of European public law by offering the deposit of dedicated archival collections of the legal history project in Florence. In this way, some outstanding private archival collections have enriched the existing EU Institutional archival holdings, mainly those of the Court of Justice of the European Union and of the various legal services of EU Institutions and bodies.


Sources available at the Historical Archives of the European Union:


Court of Justice of the European Union

The European Court of Justice was set up under the Treaty of Paris (1951) to ensure compliance of Member States with obligations under the Treaty and to deliver the appropriate interpretation and application of the Treaty. Following the Treaties of Rome in 1957, the Court expanded its responsibilities towards the European Economic Community and Euratom and thus, constituted the sole judicial authority for the European Communities.

The historical archives of the Court of Justice have been deposited in Florence in 2014. In respect of the 30 years closure period for historical archives of EU Institutions, the Court’s deposit covers the judicial and the institutional papers from its inception in 1952 up to 1982 and contains the judicial and administrative archives of the Court’s Registrar, with a unique collection of 1.845 procedure files dating from 1952 to 1979, judicial registers, minutes of hearings, 513 original judgments and institutional archives relating to the internal organisation and structure of the Court.

Link to the Fonds:


Legal Service of the European Coal and Steel Community

The Legal Service of the Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established soon after the installation of the High Authority in Luxemburg in 1952. The service provided advice for the decisions of the college of the High Authority and its growing responsibilities were reflected in its growth from six members in July 1953 to 11 in the end of 1957. After 1957, the ECSC and the two new Communities used one common Legal Service to apply the treaties in a coherent way. Since the Communities had different seats, branches of the Legal Service were attached to each Commission and soon it was conceived that each branch operated rather independently. The branch of the ECSC remained in Luxemburg under the direction of Robert Krawielicki until he passed away in February 1966. His successor at the ECSC became Walter Much, while Michel Gaudet, since 1958, directed the EEC (and Euratom) branch.

The archives of the Legal Service of the European Coal and Steel Community have been deposited in Florence by the Central Archives of the European Commission as CEAB1 and CEAB4. CEAB1 contains 1.981 paper files, CEAB4 1.438 files. Both collections relate to the application, interpretation and revision of articles of the Treaties of Paris, the juridical status of Community Institutions and their staff, relations with the European Court of Justice and other Institutions of the European Communities, competences of the High Authority, legal questions relating to the functioning of the common market of coal and steel, pooling and concentration, social politics and industrial conversion. CEAB4 also contains a major quantity of files form the Statistics Division of the High Authority.

Links to the Fonds:


Legal Service of the European Commission

No files have so far been deposited in Florence by the Legal Services of the EEC and Euratom Communities and concerning the Legal Service of the Commission after the Merger Treaty of 1967.

Walter Much papers

Walter Much (1914-1975) obtained his law degree in 1949 at the University of Munich and, in 1950, became member of the German delegation for the Schuman Plan. After the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community he became its first legal adviser, since 1966 he was Director General of the ECSC Legal Service and then, after the merger of 1967, in 1970 Director General of the Legal Service of the Commission from where he retired in 1973. He was co-editor of the legal journal ‘Europarecht‘ and law professor at the University of Saarbrucken.

The private papers of Walter Much are present at the HAEU in two sets. A first transfer of private papers was organized directly by the Central Archives of the European Commission and inserted in the HAEU holdings as file series BAC 233/1980. The 43 paper files concern mainly Much’s work as member of the German Delegation for the negotiations on the Schuman Plan and few documents from Much’s assignment at the Legal Service until 1966. The archives contain the various projects for the ECSC Treaty, debates of Member States parliaments in view of the ratification, the workings of the Interim Commission for the Schuman Plan (May 1951 to July 1952), reactions of German industries on the Treaty and various juridical studies of Walter Much for his seminars at the University of Saarbrucken.

A second set of private papers was deposited in November 2015 by the family represented by Cornelia and Christian Much. This collection of 2.5 linear meters covers the years 1948 to 1970 and contains articles and speeches, the dissertation of 1952, notes and minutes of the legal working group within the German Ministry of Justice on the Schuman Plan. The papers also contain few authenticated copies of decisions of the Court of Justice (1958 -1960) and the complete files of the 1970 conference at the University of Liège on legal and economic questions related to the Merger Treaty of 1967.

Links to fonds:


François Lamoureux

François Lamoureux (1946-2006) was born in Charente (France). After obtaining a degree in Political Sciences he obtained a doctor’s degree in Law at the University Paris II. He taught International Law at the University of Metz (1971) and in 1980 entered the Secretariat General of the European Commission, since 1984 at the Legal Service. In January 1985 he became part of the Cabinet of President Jacques Delors responsible for competition, iron and steel industries and inter-institutional questions. After a year as Deputy Director in the Cabinet of French Prime Minister Edith Cresson (1991) he re-entered the Commission as principal legal adviser for the introduction of the subsidiarity principle. In 1993 he was nominated Director for industrial politics, in 1995 Deputy Director General for External Relations and in 1999 Director General for Transports, since 2000 with Energy. After 2002 he led the internal group to draft the constitutional treaty (Penelope project) and in 2006 left the Commission to return to teaching at the University Bordeaux.

The private archives of François Lamoureux' was deposited in 2012 by his legal heirs and contains 754 paper files. The archives cover Lamoureux’s professional activities from 1985 to 2005. The files contain speeches at conferences, articles and brochures and a broad range of Commission internal documents, minutes and memoranda on the various topics he was involved during his long career.

Fernand Dehousse

Fernand Dehousse (1906-1976) was born in Liège, Belgium. After obtaining degrees in Law and Social Sciences at the University of Liège in 1929 and continuing studies in Paris, Grenoble and Geneva, he taught at the Institute of International Law at the University of Liège from 1947. Between 1946 and 1952 he was the Belgian Representative to the General Assembly and member of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. As Federalist he supported the European Movement, the Union Européenne des Fédéralistes and the Socialist Movement for the United States of Europe and participated in the creation of the Council of Europe where he then was Belgian Delegate to its Consultative Assembly (1954-1961, from 1956-1959 as President). After the setting up of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, he was appointed member (1952-1956) and got involved in the works of the Ad-Hoc Assembly projecting the Treaty for the European Defence Community and the Political Community. Later, he also joined the Working Group on the European elections (1958-1960).

The archival collection consists of 530 files and illustrates the origins of the Council of Europe, Belgium's position on the project for the European Coal and Steel Community, the history of the federalist movements and the Saarland Referendum of 1955. The files include also documents on Dehousse’s role in the United Nations, the Western European Union and NATO.

Link to fonds:

Michel Waelbroeck papers

Michel Waelbroeck was born a Belgium citizen in Geneva in 1932 and returned to live with his family in Belgium in 1946 where, in 1956, he obtained a doctorate degree in Law at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), then as Fulbright student a Master in International Law at New York University and a Master of comparative law at the International Faculty of Comparative Law in Luxemburg. As Professeur at the ULB in Brussels since 1961, he taught European law and economic Law and co-directed the ‘Commentaire Mégret’.

The archives of Michel Waelbroeck are mainly of academic nature and reflect his ground-breaking research in the field of European law. The 21 paper files contain notes, correspondence, articles and conference materials referring to his stay at New York University 1957 to 1958, his teaching at ULB from 1961 to 1993, his positioning on economic relations of the European Union with Israel (2008-2014) and a broad correspondence with Walter Ganshof van der Meersch, Henri Rolin, Jean Rey, Pierre Pescatore, Willy Alexander, Eric Stein and others.


Mauro Cappelletti papers

Mauro Cappelletti (1927-2004) obtained a law degree at the University of Florence and then became Professor of civil procedure law at the Universities of Macerata and Florence and, since 1970 at Stanford University. Few years later he was called to teach as Professor at the new established European University Institute in Florence.

The private papers of Mauro Cappelletti have been deposited at the HAEU in September 2014. Until then, the papers had been kept in Cappelletti’s house in Fiesole. The fonds is composed by a large number of files and is still under archival treatment. So far 120 paper files containing correspondence mainly with Italian and American jurists and legal scholars, but also with law specialists in Western and Eastern Europe, Japan and Latin America countries have been inventoried. A large amount of correspondence is still pending archival assessment. Another main series of files contain materials for university courses, conferences, and draft manuscripts of his numerous academic works.


Antonio Cassese papers

Antonio Cassese (1937-2011) studied law at the Scuola Sant’Anna in Pisa where he obtained his law degree. He then became professor at the University of Florence and at the European University Institute. In 1993, he was nominated first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and, in 2014, became President of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur.

The archives of Antonio Cassese have been deposited only recently in 2015 and are pending archival treatment and the preparation of an inventory.


Oral history sources:


Claus Dieter Ehlermann

Interview of 29 January 2004 - The European Commission memories 1958-1973:

Interview of 08 October 2010 - The European Commission memories 1973-1986:

Michel Gaudet

Interview of 10 January 1998 - Programme Voices on Europe:

Interview of 15 April 1988  - Programme Jean Monnet, Statesman of Interdependence:

Page last updated on 19 August 2017

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