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On 18 December 2010, Hjalte Rasmussen will turn 70. His colleagues and friends will mark the occasion by this Festschrift, with contributors from all over the world. It is the exquisite privilege of the Centre for European Constitutionalization at the Faculty of Law to commemorate his birthday by publishing the present work.
Hjalte Rasmussen, who has been associated with the Centre since its establishment in 2008, has held the professorship in EU Law and International Law at the University of Copenhagen since 1993. His reputation, however, reaches far beyond the borders of Denmark. Indeed, he has achieved wide international recognition that transcends his national identity. Many of the positions he has held - including that of visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges and chairman of several EU studies associations - attest to his singular standing amongst the community of European law scholars in Europe and throughout the world.
While we leave the detailed study of Hjalte Rasmussen's huge impact on European law to the individual contributors to this Festschrift (and, more generally, to Joseph Weiler's homage on page XIII), it is fair to say that Hjalte has irreversibly changed the way we think about EU law. From the early 1980s on, he explored a whole new universe of legal thought, leaving behind what Martin Shapiro almost 30 years ago famously described as "constitutional law without politics, the written constitution as a sacred text, the professional commentary as legal truth, the case law as the inevitable working out of the correct implications of the constitutional text and the constitutional court as the disembodied voice of right reason and constitutional teleology" (Southern California Law Review 53 [1979-80], 537, 538). His dissociation from this picture, above all, is Hjalte's stupendous and lasting legacy.
Hjalte never stated his points uncritically or without creating controversy. He has always lived by George Bernard Shaw's dictum: "A man never tells you anything until you contradict him!" This Festschrift is a tribute to Hjalte Rasmussen's many years of academic achievements in developing the theory and practice of European integration, and it is written in just that spirit. Hjalte's friends and colleagues have contributed essays that are intended to provoke him, and readers in general. Anything else would not have been suitable for Hjalte! In writing for this very special scholar, they have taken more freedom than usual, and have chosen a fitting way to honour someone who really shook the field. We celebrate a deeply courageous, independent, humorous, and humane scholar.