Law cannot substitute itself for the absence of a public sphere in which citizens can effectively deliberate upon fundamental choices about the allocation of public goods, or the control of public powers. Since the end of the 1980s, and with increasing frequency and prominence since the early 1990s, European Union (EU) lawyers have been exploring the character and limits of what the author's now call the EU legal order. They have called into question the ideal of linear progress towards integration or 'an ever closer Union', which seemed implicitly to be at the heart of much early scholarship on European Community law. Of course, in developing a wider range of perspectives upon the Union's legal order, scholars of the EU did not operate in a vacuum. They were influenced in turn by the shift especially in the Anglo-American academic sphere away from the doctrinal paradigm, from the 1970s onwards.