What the European Law Journal stands for*
Editorial: What the European Law Journal stands for; The ELJ's ecosystem; A
call for ELJ Scientific Committee members; In this issue
This issue marks the renewal of the European Law Journal editorial line. At its heart, lies a questioning of both what
purely doctrinal legal studies do fail to address and leave in the shadow of EU law and what –now mainstream –
contextual legal studies do say and emphasise. It is an existential questioning of EU law, European legal scholarship
and the ELJ itself or, more broadly speaking, of the meaning and purpose of European integration, with both theoret-
ical and concrete roots.
From a conceptual standpoint, if law is a form of 3D social ordering, in terms of organisation of societal interac-
tions (the formal axis) and more deeply in terms of ascribing, construing and reflecting the meaning of our lives (the
substantial and axiological axes), living EU law
forms the object of our scholarly endeavours. It ensues that the first
objective of a “review of European law in context,”the ELJ's mission, cannot ‘merely’consist in deciphering EU law
through various theoretical or methodological approaches, be it economic, political, social, historical or philosophical.
It does not mean that it is not key in enriching our understanding of the text(ure) of EU law, however, its ultimate
contextualisation lies in the intimate connection(s) established between law and life. This and no other can avoid a
bubble effect that would end up sucking the life out of law to the point of depriving it of its legitimacy and effective-
ness. Law, after all, is a very human experience.
More concretely, the European Union seems to be at a crossroads. ‘Do or die’would sum it up in all its
eloquent crudeness. Pressured by the unstoppable course of an accelerating history and faced with multiple
crises, the EU is summoned to spell out what it stands for. Defining European integration through action is the
challenge of the 21
century for a European union of the willing, whether one believes in it or thinks of it as the
lesser of all evils.
European (legal) scholarship is thus also at a crossroads. It can continue to write the most beautiful swan songs
about European disintegration by describing EU law in a purely doctrinal fashion or by explaining in a contextual
fashion, and albeit with exquisite sophistication, the multiple endogenous and exogenous crises that have hit our
European vessel while it is sinking. Alternately, it can decide to participate in a collective effort to craft European
integration anew in order to tackle contemporary challenges. This is what guides the ELJ editorial line, this is the gap
it hopes to contribute to filling, and this is what the ELJ resolutely stands for.
If contextualising EU law in life translates into the active participation in defining European integration through
law, it requires first to reconnect with the pioneering spirit that characterised the beginnings of the European
In law as in life, there are exceptional people who cross your path, people who understand you and a situation in the blink of an eye, people who give
disinterested but always thoughtful advices. To Loïc Azoulai, thank you. And since a journey is always multifaceted, thank you very much to Olivier Costa
for his interdisciplinary and editorial eagle eye on this text, allowing me to improve it from a decentered standpoint.
The expression ‘living law’is used in its literal or plain meaning and does not refer specifically to Eugen Ehrlich's sociological jurisprudence (see. E. Ehrlich,
Fundamental Principles of the Sociology of Law (Routledge, 2017)) or to any proponents of a sociological approach to law (see e.g. R. Cotterrell, Living Law:
Studies in Legal and Social Theory (Routledge, 2017)). The aim is indeed to allow the reader to understand or conceptually translate this expression in her
own theoretical frame of reference.
2© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Eur Law J. 2020;26:2–8.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/eulj