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Citizenship and Solidarity in the European Union

From the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis, the State of the Art

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Edited By Alessandra Silveira, Mariana Canotilho and Pedro Madeira Froufe

This book attempts to address an important question: where is the European project going?
As Europe struggles with the most profound economic and social crises in recent history, what happens to the promises of freedom, democracy, equality and respect for the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person proclaimed in the Preamble of the Treaty on European Union? How does the European Union intend to demonstrate its commitment to fundamental social rights at a time of widespread deregulation and an increasingly precarious labour market? How can we further enhance the democratic and efficient functioning of European institutions when there is a growing distance between citizens and political elites?
This publication is based on papers given at the international conference «Citizenship and Solidarity in the European Union – from the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis: The State of the Art», which took place in the School of Law at the University of Minho, Portugal, in May 2012. The line-up of contributors includes scholars from southern and northern Europe and Brazil, and together the papers constitute a lively and productive debate about the future of Europe.
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European Constitutionalism in 2012. Times are Tough Again (António-Carlos Pereira Menaut)

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António-Carlos PEREIRA MENAUT

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

I think that the European Union is not an Unknown Political Object, pace some illustrious politicians and scholars. It is better understood as a process of integration with much in common with other similar historic processes. Having reached a constitutional level some time ago, it is presently at a crossroads. Recent developments suggest that, under the current constitutional scheme, when we have a serious problem – say, a Member State bankruptcy – the only alternative presented to us, as if tertium non daretur, is another turn of the screw of centralisation, or else the breaking up of the Union. I rather suggest that tertium datur, and that our ruling élites should never become a Frankestein-like power,1 neither a Gentle Monster,2 nor a Dark Lord with a ring to bind us all and keep us in darkness as if in Plato’s Cave – perhaps an illiberal democracy governed by the new breed of philosopher-kings, the European technocrats.

All this lead us to question what sort of European integration we want, and how close? Surely European integration must be closer than it is now, but it should not be closer and closer ad infinitum, because “ever” implies “incessantly”, so that the day would come in which our European diversities would eventually disappear. The American Founding Fathers wanted to “form a more perfect Union”, which is not exactly the same thing. Indeed, the drafters of the ever closer Union...

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