At the end of 2006, the Austrian Academy of Sciences established a number of research centres, including the Social Sciences Research Centre, merging individual research institutions into centres in order to promote interdisciplinary research. Collaboration between scholars from different fields in the Social Sciences should lead to new insights, not only through discourse from different viewpoints, but also in the recognition of new questions. To facilitate this, a function of the Social Science Research Centre is to arrange public panels and discussions in which at least two research institutes discuss a topic from their different points of view, usually with the participation of an outside guest.
The first of these events took place February 1, 2007 and was dedicated to an indeed not new, but still extremely relevant subject: the unification of law in a united Europe. Sonja Puntscher-Riekmann, then Executive Director of the Institute of European Integration Research, Helmut Koziol, Managing Director of the Research Unit for European Tort Law, and Michael Faure, professor at Maastricht University who has also been a contributor to the work of the same Research Unit, discussed this theme from various perspectives, including Political Sciences, private law and the economic analysis of law. The discussions showed that opinions differ enormously concerning the possibility of such legal unification as well as its meaningfulness, this dependant on whether the question is considered from a political, legal-theoretical or an economic viewpoint. The publication concerning this project provides a synopsis of the views of representatives from these three different fields. It should help contribute to an awareness of the various arguments and the achievement of a balanced perspective concerning legal unification.