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European Constitutionalism

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives


Edited By Alexandre Dupeyrix and Gérard Raulet

The deep economic crisis that Europe has been facing for several years can be seen as both a cause and a consequence of the political indecision with which the European Community or European Union has been living for so long now. The end-goal of this unique political project has never been clarified. While its objective – to guarantee peace, security, justice and wealth – was certainly explicit from the start and has been repeated in the various treaties underlying the Community or Union, the institutional and political means necessary to attain these goals have so far remained undetermined. In these times of turmoil, this lack of clarity turns out to be a latent defect within the EU.
The issue of European constitutionalism paradigmatically illustrates the conceptual, political and legal difficulties that confront us when we try to define the EU and imagine its possible developments and transformations. It emphasizes one of the paradoxes of the European project: it is unable to develop without constitutionalizing the European legal framework but also unable to find the appropriate manner in which to do so, or gain the support of the European peoples. These difficulties are caused by a variety of historical, conceptual and legal factors, which the present volume attempts to identify and discuss.
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Remarks on the Normative Understanding of a Transnational European Democracy (Alexandre Dupeyrix)


Alexandre DUPEYRIX

If we try to grasp the meaning of the European project and to define its purpose today (its finalité), four different approaches are possible:1

– the first approach, a negative one: democracy is a matter of sovereignty, and the nation state is the only framework where sovereignty can develop and express itself. By contrast, the European Union (EU) represents negatively the disintegration of the nation state and of national identities, and hence the decline of sovereignty and democratic citizenship; for such Euro-sceptical observers, state and sovereignty are the essence of politics; therefore they consider the “post-national” as post-political and post-democratic;

– others advocate the view that the aim of the process of European integration is a federal state. At the beginning of the European construction, they used to refer to the American model and to speak of the United States of Europe (representing the pacifist utopia of the post-First World War period). This approach is in some sense the opposite of the previous position, but both think in terms of a state. Their conception of a supranational order is literally super national: they defend a super-state. This approach is perfectly legitimate, however it encounters huge historical and empirical difficulties which seem to prove Kant right when he wrote in his Treaty of Perpetual Peace that which seems accepted in thesi is rejected by the peoples of Europe in hypothesi: a supranational state is perhaps the logical and rational horizon of European integration but...

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