Constitutional Federalism and the EU: A Question of Standards

Logo_uvaLecture by Professor Robert Schütze (Durham University)
Architecture Dialogues Series, University of Amsterdam
Monday, 10 November 2014, 16.00- 17.30
Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, 1012 CN Amsterdam, room A 1.01
Attendance is free of charge, registration requested

Is there a European Union constitution? This question has plagued European Union law ever since its birth. From a descriptive point of view, the European Union undoubtedly has a constitution, since it has a set of institutions that engage in the business of government. However, could the same be said from the perspective of federal constitutionalism? Does the European Union have a formal constitution; and if so: what is the political philosophy that underpins that formal constitution? The discussion will explore the formal constitutionalist credentials of the Union legal order. We shall see there that the Union has claimed that the European Union Treaties constitute the highest law in Europe.

The presentation will further explore the constitutional nature of the Union from a “democratic” perspective. Should the European Union Treaties be denied their highest law status because they have not had a (national) democratic foundation, nor have they established a (national) system of representation? Finally, evaluation of the Union legal order through the lens of liberal constitutionalism will be offered. This “classic” constitutionalism assesses the legal nature of a document by insisting on a separation of powers and the existence of fundamental rights. The presentation will conclude that, with the help of a federal standard, the Union “ticks all the boxes” of modern constitutionalism.

Robert Schütze is Professor of European Law at Durham University. He is a constitutional scholar with a particular expertise in the law of the European Union and comparative federalism. He has been a Visiting Professor and Fellow at a number of universities and institutes. Professor Schütze is the principal investigator of the “Neo-Federalism” Project – funded by the European Research Council. This four-year project investigates how political power should be divided within and among national peoples, and especially analyses whether the federal principle could prove a philosophical key to the contemporary legal developments in the international and (sub)national spheres.

Attendance is free of charge, but due to limited room capacity subject to registration. Please send an email to Angela Moisl ( to register for this event. All participants are cordially invited for a reception after the event.

More information at the University of Amsterdam website.