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International Federation of European Law

UNITING GREAT MINDS OF EUROPEAN LAW*

Objectives and Intentions

PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 1 OF FIDE’S STATUTES ITS OBJECTIVE IS FORMULATED AS:

‘The International Federation for European Law is set up, bringing together the national associations created in the Member States of the European Community, the activity of which is devoted to the study and development of the law and institutions of the European Community’ [European Community is to be read as European Union (EU) since 2009, following the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon by the member states of the EU].

FIDE (Fédération Internationale pour le Droit Européen or International Federation for European Law) covers all matters of ‘European law’.

Pursuant to its statutes, FIDE is an impartial and non-profit making association, set up in accordance with Belgian law.

Statutes 1961 - Statutes Amendment 1981 [PDF]

About FIDE

FÉDÉRATION INTERNATIONALE POUR LE DROIT EUROPÉEN

Established in 1961, FIDE brings together the European law associations of each Member State, as well as of candidate countries and Norway and Switzerland. As the common umbrella organization, it is highly acknowledged by many as having a remarkable role on the development and shaping of both European legal framework and culture, over more than 50 years of existence.

History of FIDE

FIDE emerged from a historical context where the European Communities had no more than ten member states and as clearly explained by Morten Rasmussen, the European institutions faced the challenge of overcoming the national legal elites, while trying to implement an European legal order that was structurally dependant on the goodwill and cooperation of national courts.

In such scenario, Morten Rasmussen states: “FIDE and the national associations would not only be an important source of information to the Legal Service [of the European Commission then led by Michel Gaudet] and the ECJ on how European Law was being received in the member states; as social actors the jurists would – in Gaudet’s mind – also be instrumental in convincing national courts and legal elites to adopt European Law” (Morten Rasmussen, 2013).

FIDE was established at a conference on European Law held in Brussels in 12-14 October 1961, by the national associations from the following member states: Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Later, FIDE was joined by the national associations of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark.

FIDE’s objectives envisaged the research and development of the law and institutions of the European Communities (EC) – currently that of the European Union –, as well as their interaction with the legal systems of the member states. The biennial Congresses, organized by FIDE since its establishment, serve such purposes.

From the early start, FIDE engaged the voluntary contributions of renowned legal practitioners who shared the same view as Walter Hallstein (President of the European Commission in 1958) on the central importance of legislation, interpretation and application of law for the European integration, therefore leading efforts to a more systematic co-operation of national judiciaries in the application and development of European Law. Moreover, FIDE has influenced the creation of a new academic field so-called European Law that would be most relevant in legitimising the practice of the Court of Justice of the EU.

Soon after its second congress on the self-executing nature of EC founding treaties, held in The Hague in 1963, FIDE is regarded by Rasmussen (2013) as having driven the first round test of preliminary references from Dutch Courts to the European Court of Justice that led to the doctrine of the direct effect of EU Law (Van Gend en Loos case) dated 1963-4. Also, following the Congress held in Paris in 1965, FIDE endorsed the doctrine of primacy.

Alexandre Bernier sums up FIDE’s three important effects on the evolution of European Law: (i) the large-scale FIDE conferences; (ii) the publication of the proceedings following the mentioned conferences and (iii) its role as facilitator of the emergence of test cases to the Court of Justice of the EU from national courts of doctrinal importance (Alexandre Bernier, 2012). 

Purpose and structural organisation

FIDE operates by its statutes which were amended in 1981.

As set forth in Article 4, its intended aims are the following:

  • to promote the objectives of the member associations, in particular by organising common events and by encouraging contacts and exchange of information between them;
  • to bring together lawyers who are interested in European Law and the laws of European Countries;
  • to study together the solutions to legal problems that occur in all areas in consequence of the evolution of the structures and institutions of the European Community [European Community is to be read as European Union since 2009 following the Treaty of Lisbon];
  • to make all who are interested aware of the importance of these problems.

Congresses

As mentioned, FIDE’s activities are focused on a long tradition of biennial Congresses, lasting two and half days on average and held in different EU member states. The Congresses gather renowned academics, practitioners of EU Law, the President of the Court of Justice of the EU, judges, advocates-general, director generals of legal services of EU Institutions (European Parliament, Council of EU and European Commission).

As pointed out by Alexandre Bernier in 2012, the Congresses and related publications – FIDE’s main activity – are deemed landmarks in the study of key themes on European Law and of case law of the Court of Justice of the EU.

The publications consist of detailed comparative studies, which follow the three topics of the Congress, including notably Competition Law and Institutional Law of the EU. For each of the three topics, a ‘questionnaire’ is carefully prepared by the ‘General Rapporteur’ who assumes the responsibility of its coordination, as well as the national reports, drafted by experts appointed by the national associations of FIDE. All these reports are subsequently published in a collection, along with the general reports prepared by the ‘General Rapporteurs’ and complemented by institutional reports prepared by representatives of the EU institutions.

Members

Currently, FIDE includes not only 1 law association per Member State of the European Union, but also associations dedicated to the study of European Law of the states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) - Switzerland and Norway. In addition, a number of states beyond the EU and EFTA have also demonstrated great interest in FIDE.

The 29 Associations currently admitted as FIDE members are considered sufficiently representative of the national legal bodies concerned with European law, and include academics, jurists (notably lawyers), judges and civil servants. The aim is not only to promote in-depth debate leading to the development of European Union Law and European Law, but also to involve younger generations.

Relevant literature

For further knowledge of FIDE, it may be of relevance to read the following (chronological order):

  • Rebekka Byberg:  ‘A Miscellaneous Network: The History of FIDE 1961-94’, American Journal of Legal History, Volume 57, Issue 2, 1 June 2017, Pages 142-165 (https://doi.org/10.1093/ajlh/njx004)
  • Ulla Neergaard & Catherine Jacqueson, et al: ‘Introduction’, 2014 FIDE Proceedings, DJØF Publishing, 2014
  • Morten Rasmussen e.g.: ‘Establishing a Constitutional Practice: The Role of the European Law Associations’, in Wolfram Kaiser and Jan-Henrik Meyer (Eds.): ‘Societal Actors in European Integration. Polity-Building and Policy Making, 1958-1992’, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 173-197
  • Alexandre Bernier: ‘Constructing and Legitimating: Transnational Jurist Networks and the Making of a Constitutional Practice of European Law, 1950-1970’, in ‘Contemporary European History’, 2012, pp. 399-415
  • Julia Laffranque: ‘FIDE – Uniting Great Minds of European Law: 50 years of the International Federation for European Law’, Juridica International, 2011, pp. 173-181
  • Antoine Vauchez: ‘The Making of the European Union’s Constitutional Foundations: The Brokering Role of Legal Entrepreneurs and Networks’ in Wolfram Kaiser, Brigitte Leucht and Michael Gehler, eds, Transnational Networks in Regional Integration: Governing Europe 1945-83 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); ‘The transnational politics of judicialisation: Van Gend en Loos and the making of EU polity’, European Law journal, 16, I (2010), I – 28
  • Karen Alter: ‘The European Court’s Political Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

 

* coined (created) by Prof. Julia Laffranque, President of FIDE 2011-2012, in her article 'FIDE - Uniting Great Minds of European Law: 50 years of the International Federation for European Law', Juridica International, 2011, pp. 173-181. (also available here)