Europeanization of Legal Culture: an Exploratory Essay
Keywords:legal culture, law, legal system, Europeanization, European integration, EU law, European Union, Ukraine
The concept of «legal culture» has been the subject of academic legal research over the past half century. It has attracted special attention in the postmodern research field, which is more interested in overcoming the limits of positivist legal analysis and is much better prepared for the challenges of interdisciplinarity. The concept of «legal culture», despite its inherent vagueness, is valued in the academic environment for its ability to broaden and deepen the understanding of national and regional legal systems and their components, to act, on the one hand, as evidence of legal uniformity and, on the other hand, of cultural difference, to emphasize legal identity and postulate the legal identity of individual human communities. The perception of law in its cultural determination takes researchers beyond the scope of exclusively legal texts and makes them sensitive to different models of legal thinking, assumptions, behavior and practices inherent in certain human communities. The concept of «legal culture» emphasizes the specific cultural ties that underlie a particular legal community. The obvious advantage of highlighting the legal and cultural uniformity of a certain group is its integrative functions: legal systems (subnational, national, integration or international) based on different legal concepts, rules, institutions and procedures can be linked at the legal and cultural level. The importance of legal and cultural analysis stems not only from the recognition of the existence of different levels of legal and cultural unity, but also from the need to observe the legal and cultural dynamics that exist within and between different legal cultures. This is due to the fact that legal culture can be constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed, and has a significant potential for evolution. The borders of legal culture are usually open to change (the process of Europeanization proves the validity of this conclusion), although this process is not fast and difficult to recognize as easily controlled. Legal traditions, as the core of national legal cultures, have undergone significant changes since the Second World War under the influence of modernization, industrialization, globalization and regional integration. The success of European legal integration and the process of European unification as a whole depends not only on artificial, top-down, harmonized or unified legislation, but also on the success of the process of forming a common European legal culture as a result of the Europeanization of 27 national legal cultures and, in particular, national professional legal cultures. In order for a meaningful and truly unified European legal order to be formed, it must be based on a European legal culture. Effective legal Europeanization directly depends, first, on the formation and perception by the societies of all 27 Member States of a system of common values, principles, ideas, ideals, models of legal argumentation, doctrines, theories, concepts, behavior and practice; second, on full compliance with the principles of EU law and direct application of EU law in the legal systems of the Member States, through the harmonization of national legislation with the provisions of EU law, as well as through formal judicial harmonization. Effective and equal application of EU law is directly conditioned by the formation of European judicial culture.
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