Besides being a scholar of European and international law, Joseph H.H. Weiler is, in a certain sense, a citizen of the world. An Israeli, born in South Africa to parents of British and Russian origins, Weiler works in English, Hebrew, French, Italian, and "some German." He received his high school education in Jerusalem, and his university education in Britain, The Netherlands, and Italy. He earned a B.A. at Sussex, an LL.B. and LL.M. at Cambridge; a Diploma of International Law at The Hague Academy of International Law; and a Ph.D. in European Law at Florence.
Weiler comes to the Law School from the European University Institute, where he was head of the law department and director of the European policy unit. The Institute, a creation of the Member States of the EEC (the European Economic Community or Common Market), is the highest research and post-graduate center for European studies in Europe.
In the area of scholarship, one of Weiler's most significant works to date has been an analysis of the fundamental legal and political structures and processes of the EEC, which resulted in a new working definition of the nature of "supranationalism."
Beginning with a couple of widely discussed articles in the early 8Os, Weiler identified and analyzed this disciplinary cleavage between law and politics. He then constructed a unified theory which both accounted for these two diverging trends and linked them to each other, as well as into one coherent systematic analysis. These beginnings were then developed into a full-fledged monograph in Italian entitled Il sistema communitario europeo (The European Community System), published in early 1985 by Il Mulino in their "Frontiers of Science" series. The book has drawn considerable attention; versions in French and Spanish are in print and a German translation is pending. Weiler hopes to complete a final and definitive English version over the next two years. Other monographical work includes a book about the much misunderstood European parliament, The European Parliament and its Foreign Affairs Committees (Cedam/Oceana) and a short monograph with the title Israel and the Creation of a Palestinian State.
In addition to individual scholarship, Weiler has been involved in some important collective projects of comparative analysis. Most important has been the design and co-direction, together with Professor Cappelletti (Florence and Stanford Law Schools) of a major research project involving over 30 scholars from Europe and the U.S. This project sought to examine some key issues in the process of European integration and compare them with the American experience. The project has now been published under the title Integration Through Law: Europe and the American Federal Experience (De Gruyter) as an eight-volume series with Weiler as a key contributor and one of the general editors.
Despite the theoretical and conceptual emphasis of his personal research, Weiler relishes the practical world of law. This is reflected in both his teaching and his writing. Among his other contributions, he has become a co-author of the supplement to the celebrated Stein, Hay, and Waelbroeck Casebook, European Community Law and Institutions in Perspective.
This same desire not to be completely esconsed in an academic ivory tower led him in 1984 to found and direct the European Policy Unit, an independently funded interdisciplinary thinktank engaged in policy studies concerning the European Community. Under his direction, this center has engaged in projects ranging from the prospective impact of SDI (Strategc Defense Initiative) on European economies to alternative policies for dealing with young female delinquents in European countries.
His fascination with the European Community and with the Arab-Israeli conflict led inevitably to an attempt to connect the two. He has co-authored a monograph with an Israeli colleague (Alain Greilsammer) examining the evolution of European foreign policy towards the conflict since the 1967 Middle East War. This book will appear shortly under the title European Political Cooperation and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Westview).
Wishing to expand their enquiry further, Weiler and his Israeli collaborator convened a conference in Israel with scholars from Europe and the U.S. to examine the broader issues and to integrate the economic dimension into this complex. The resulting volume, Europe and Israel: Troubled Neighbors, will be published by the end of the year (Walter de Gruyter).
Weiler considers the invitation to teach at Michigan "a singular honor." He explains, "in the fields of European international and comparative law, Michigan has been something of a Mecca to Europeans. Its reputation in Europe is second to none. Although the geographical distance to Europe is enormous, the library and its resources make me feel as if I were in one of the best stocked European research centers. The architecture as well: gazing out of the leaded window in my office onto the beautiful quadrangle, I can imagine being anywhere in northern Europe. And yet, this is America with all its excitement, and Michigan Law School with its quiet commitment to serious scholarship. It is not surprising that some of my colleagues in Europe refer to Michigan as 'that monastery of learning."
-- From the University of Michigan Law School's Law Quadrangle Notes, V. 30, Iss. 03 (Spring 1986).
Weiler left Michigan Law in 1992 to join the Harvard Law School faculty.