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State as a Giant with Feet of Clay

Edited By Jan Kysela

Many contemporary states, even the European ones, resemble a giant with feet of clay. They tend to be greater in terms of the scope of governance, rather than in terms of their territory or population. Since they are great, they are also costly, though often very limited in various respects. One perilous alternative is the state-giant of Thomas Hobbes. But there are other possibilities as well, such as the liberal state, effective, yet small or lean; or the dreamt-up state of the conservatives, based on the principle of subsidiarity, acting only as a complement to civil society. The fundamental thesis in this book is that the states in which we live are great, however weak. The book then discusses the main categories of limits on state power, such as human rights, international law, EU law and societal changes.
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The State and the European Union


I.Transformations of the state and its importance within the European Union

European integration counts among the most important historic movements of our times. The European Union has been significantly transforming the very fundaments of the organisation and functioning of the institutions of its Member States. Therefore, European integration falls within the wider framework of globalisation and other phenomena related to the “hollowing out” of the state - which still commands the strongest means of power, including a monopoly on legal violence, but the scope of its real power has been narrowing and it cedes a range of its decisions to other entities.1

Unlike many other manifestations of globalisation, European integration is a desired and controlled phenomenon. It was established to ensure prosperity and peaceful co-operation among the states of post-war Europe and the welfare of their citizens. The path leading to this aim was to be the self-limitation of states and their submission to common decisions, which conformed to the post-war development of international law. Although the European integration was conceived as an idea of federalisation, it was created as a functionalist project of supranational economic regulation, and has only gradually grown into other areas where the Member States considered it beneficial to act jointly.2 All the subsequent integration steps were connected with conferring new competences upon the European level, and with the deepening or widening of competences that had already been conferred. At the same time, many features functionally equivalent to federalism have...

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