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Abstract This article tracks the genesis of one of the EU's most established meta-narratives, that of Europeanisation-through-case-law. Instead of studying this theory of European integration as an explanatory frame, I consider what is at stake in its genesis as a dominant frame of understanding of Europeanisation. I trace its emergence in the conflicting theorisations of the relationship between law and the European Communities that come along with the ECJ's ‘landmark’ decisions (Van Gend en Loos and Costa v ENEL). This approach helps seize the genesis of a specific and—at the time—rather unlikely political model for Europe in which a Court (the ECJ) is regarded as the very locus of European integration's dynamics as well as the best mediator and moderator of both Member States' ‘conservatism’ and individuals' ‘potential excesses’.