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Abstract

In this article, I compare constitutional and administrative models in terms of their implications for the EU legal order’s interaction with other legal regimes. I aim to make a twofold argument on the implications of the EU’s constitutional self-image to the world political order. First, as the CJEU adopts an identity-centred strong constitutionalist position on the Union’s external relations, it implicitly frames the EU legal order’s interaction with other legal regimes as in a federated order. Yet the strong political implications of federation are likely to bring about more inter-regime conflicts and provoke reactions from Member States. Second, I provide a critique of the administrative model in the light of GAL’s intervention in inter-regime relations, suggesting a post-identity constitutional alternative in times of crisis. Freed from the value-laden concept of constitutional identity, but without de-constitutionalizing itself, the EU can have the benefits of both the constitutional and administrative models by moving towards a weak-form constitutional order. In the event, the debate, as to whether to conduct the EU’s external relations according to the constitutional or the administrative model, is misconceived.

Abstract

The robustness of the EU’s constitutional framework – and its ability to accommodate democratic politics – is challenged as never before. The growing disconnect between formally democratic procedures and substantive choice is well illustrated by the Greek crisis. Since its first bailout in May 2010, Greece has held four general elections and a referendum. Yet, the anti-austerity preferences of the Greek electorate have not been effectively translated into policy.

This article uses the Greek crisis to analyse the EU’s democratic deficit, and the related issue of the locus of legal and political sovereignty in the EU. It argues that the EU’s constitutional framework is not sufficiently responsive to changing material conditions or to the changing preferences of Europeans. Thus, EU constitutionalism needs to be refashioned in order to strike a better balance between democratic and technocratic governance, as well as between the needs of individual citizens, national citizenries, and states.

Abstract

This article explores the particular tensions surrounding judicial review in EU external relations. The tensions are classified using a two-dimensional framework. Firstly, a distinction based on policy domains of high and low politics, which is derived from constitutional theory, and external to the CJEU; and secondly a distinction based on legitimizing paradigms of administrative (EU as effective global actor) or constitutional (judicial review as guarantee of fundamental rights) in character and determined by the Court itself. Even though one would expect a dominance of the administrative paradigm in the domain of high politics, the Court uses both the administrative and the constitutional paradigm in its external relations case-law. The decision on which of these becomes the guiding frame seems to depend more on the policy domain, and be made case by case, which suggests politically sensitive adjudication, rather than a coherent approach to legitimizing the nascent judicial review in EU external relations.

Abstract

This article provides an analysis of the functions performed by constitutional identity in constitutional discourses of both the EU and its Member States, in the context of emerging post-Westphalian and supranational constitutionalism. The analysis tries to demonstrate that constitutional identity may serve as one of the key normative ideologies, legitimation strategies and ordering schemes of EU constitutionalism. It reasserts through functional analysis the suitability of constitutional identity for organizing and explaining multiple constitutional orders in a non-hierarchical and inclusive way.

The article is based on a socio-legal approach, deliberately avoiding the predominant legal realist and legal positivist discourses. This is due to the fact that a functional analysis presupposes admitting the existence of ideal, legal and socio-legal dimensions of constitutional concepts and institutions and the taking into account of social implications produced by their functioning. The article deliberately takes a constitutionalist stance on the EU and the EU integration. It is focused on the contribution of constitutional identity for the further constitutionalization of the EU from a socio-political and constitutionalist perspective.

Abstract

For the first time since its creation, the European Union (EU) has been living its probably most significant identity crisis. This crisis has its roots in different critical situations that have hit the EU, have affected its functioning and have fundamentally questioned its legitimacy. The gaps in the EU integration process have been uncovered and the fragmentation of EU policies has become a source of different risks.

On the anniversary of sixty years of the Rome Treaties, this Special Issue aims to reflect on the paradigms for EU law looking beyond their competing accounts of EU integration. The analysis is developed through a series of contributions that challenge the paradigms in different directions. The discussion is articulated on two levels. On the one hand, a group of contributions focuses on the historical and legal analysis of the emergence and transformation of the EU legal order. These contributions delve deeper into the absence of a European identity and go beyond the inherent critique that the EU is a demoi-cracy that struggles with a democratic disconnect or even deficit. On the other hand, other contributions debate paradigms and their implementation in important policy domains. These contributions aim to give a more practical perspective on the constitutional and/or administrative character of the European Union, showing its implications and concrete questions.

Abstract

This paper analyses the ways in which the Unfair Contract Terms and Unfair Commercial Practices Directives try to steer a path between imposing a common European standard and allowing national variation. The open wording of the norms and safeguard clauses in both directives allows room for their flexible application. The differentiated role between the Court of Justice, as the interpreter of European law, and the national courts, as the party that applies it, provides a release valve to prevent any direct clashes and allows a subtle way for national perspectives to be reflected.

The analysis finds that, irrespective of the underlying level of harmonisation, and with the backing of the European legislator’s intention of ensuring a high level of consumer protection, the CJEU is gradually painting the average European consumer with more realistic features. Here, the case law of the CJEU fulfils a bridging function between the labelling requirements in the Foodstuff Regulation, the transparency requirements in the Unfair Contract Terms Directive and the informed decision requirements in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. In these three domains the CJEU recognises that the level of customer attention may be suboptimal, even in the presence of comprehensive and correct information.

The CJEU’s approach contributes to more convergence in consumer protection throughout the EU. Yet, in terms of legitimacy, it must be noted that in all cases the CJEU has maintained a clear distinction between interpretation and application. The particular constitutional legal order in which the CJEU operates only allows for a process whereby the contours of a more coherent European consumer protection policy are gradually revealed. In the absence of sufficient legislative guidance at the European and national levels, national courts may be increasingly informed by the case law of the CJEU in an effort to establish clearly desirable common expectations. Those who believe that, in practice, uniformity can be achieved overnight by simply adopting a common maximum norm appear over-optimistic.