Autonomous EU Concepts: Fact or Fiction?
Regardless of whether they exist in mono-or multilingual legal orders, legal concepts are inherently language-based, as law cannot exist and develop in ways other than through language. Only via language are lawyers and other users of the law, such as the citizens of a society, able to exchange knowledge about the legal concepts underlying the rules of a legal system. Therefore, no law without language (cf. comments by Graziadei in Chapter 2). Consequently, it is generally relevant to investigate to what extent the way in which lawyers conceptualize law and aspects of law is in accordance with or at odds with the characteristics of language-based concepts. As a concrete example, language-based concepts are inherently dynamic. This characteristic challenges traditional ideas in the legal community of statutory interpretation, which generally presuppose more conceptual stability. In previous work I have looked at the impact of this clash on the way we view statutory interpretation and legal translation, on the one hand (for example, Engberg 2009, 2010, 2011), and the functioning of a supranational legal order like EU law, on the other (Engberg 2012). In this chapter, I apply this general perspective of legal communication to the specific situation of concepts in EU multilingual legal communication and to what is claimed to be a central characteristic of the EU legal order: conceptual autonomy. The aim of the study is to investigate the question whether the conceptual autonomy of EU concepts formulated in different languages for purposes of interlingual and intercultural communication of the law is fact or fiction from the point of view of Knowledge
Communication, and, second, to identify the relevant prerequisites for such a claim to prevail.