Making the European Court Work: Nicola Catalano and the Origins of European Legal Integration

27 January 2023, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Nicola Catalano is seldom included among the pantheon of Europe’s founders. To the extent that he is remembered, it is for stint as one of the first judges at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In this chapter, I challenge this consensus to retrace the agents and struggles underlying the early development of the EU’s judicial order. I argue that Catalano made fundamental contributions to shaping European law, but these contributions occurred before and after his ECJ tenure. Leveraging archival, interview, and secondary evidence to retrace Catalano’s variegated professional life, I demonstrate that the development of the EU’s judicial order rested less on the supranational willpower of ECJ judges and more on the tireless entrepreneurship of “Euro-lawyers” eroding resistances to Europeanization within member states. These findings highlight how processes of institutional change hinge on agents who integrate insider expertise with outside mobilization and balance their ideational commitments with tactical pragmatism.


European law
European Court of Justice
legal mobilization
judicial politics
institutional change
European integration


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