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As a centre for European law and governance, ACELG adopts a distinctive approach to the analysis of European law.

While our primary focus is legal research into the processes of integration within the European Union and the counter-tendencies it triggers, ACELG engages in research that considers legal phenomena in the context of practices, broader constitutional developments and shifts in governance in Europe, as well as in the wider structures of global governance. ACELG’s research thus combines an internal approach to legal studies with an external approach from the perspective of other disciplines and accordingly goes beyond analysing the core legal sources within the European legal order (the EU Treaties, secondary legislation and case law of the Court of Justice). Hence, both the object and the methods of ACELG’s research are distinct in that they go beyond the traditional legal analysis.

Accordingly ACELG’s scholarly work uses a number of research methods: analysis of positive law, gathering and assessment of empirical data, and normative evaluation and interpretation. ACELG seeks to build bridges to the work undertaken by other research communities and disciplines while offering our own distinct contribution. ACELG’s self-conception as a research community, in which competing views are developed and tested is also reflected in this research programme, which aims to offer a programmatic framework while leaving room for methodological and substantive development on an individual level.

ACELG’s chosen approach of encouraging its researchers to combinine social science methods with legal analysis also become apparent in its cooperation networks. ACELG researchers prominently engage and cooperate with academics from the social sciences, in particular political science and public administration and economics both nationally (e.g. Access Europe, ACLE, the Utrecht School of Governance, and within the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences) and internationally (EUI, CCP at UEA, ReNEUAL and others) and are further embedded in a number of international research networks. Some relate the EU perspective to the international context and cooperate with international law and other scholars (e.g. ACIL and CLEER).