This paper presents the Swiss Ständerat as a model of perfect bicameralism. It looks at the constitutional design of the second Chamber, examines the evolution of the Ständerat and critically assesses its current functioning. The author claims that the Swiss Federal Assembly is still based on almost perfect bicameralism but that the second Chamber only very imperfectly represents the regions. Having highlighted the current role and justification of the second Chamber, the paper will raise the question whether the Ständerat fulfils other useful functions justifying its existence. Does the sheer fact of having two differently composed Chambers prevent capricious and precipitous decision-making? The paper then turns to alternative mechanisms of representing regions at the federal level, briefly looks at other mechanisms available to Cantons to make their voices heard in the capital and presents the House of the Cantons as an evolving third Chamber complementing the Ständerat.
An analysis of the structure of parliaments in European countries shows that a wide range of options developed across the centuries. However, many of these patterns (among which tetracameralism, tricameralism, and qualified unicameralism) did not survive, despite their sometimes-remarkable historical interest. Currently, parliaments in Europe are either unicameral or bicameral: while unicameralism is the most common option, bicameralism is generally adopted in more populous countries and/or States with strong territorial autonomies. As a matter of fact, among varieties of bicameralism, the most common is characterized by a ‘territorial’ second chamber. Nevertheless, other types of bicameralism deserve attention too, not only to provide a comprehensive outline of the comparative scene, but also to find features that can define emerging trends. For this purpose, a classification of bicameralism will be outlined, mainly examining the patterns displayed by second chambers and the relationships between the two chambers. Combining this classification with the outcomes of the choice between unicameralism and bicameralism, some trends can be detected, although national experiences are so diverse that reliable norms are difficult to identify.
This article is inspired by the 2017 discussions on the future of Europe (in particular some of the ideas debated in the White Paper on the Future of Europe, published by the European Commission) and the events that took place in the crises and post-crises period (aftermath of the financial crisis, ongoing refugee crisis and the Brexit shock). It is particularly interested in the scenario of differentiated integration. In this regard, it observes how in the aftermath of the crises, there was a shift in the rationale of differentiated integration with objective (in)ability of the states taking a prominent role. It presents a federalist critique of this development, drawing on the work of Daniel Elazar, discussing the concepts of non-centralization, federal process and federal covenant in the context of the 2017 discussions in the EU.
In recent political debate, the association between national souverainisme and Euroscepticism is considered a natural one. From Marine Le Pen to Matteo Salvini, there is a unanimous affirmation of the necessity to defend national sovereignty against the threat of Brussels. But if we take a more in-depth look, we can see how European Integration has fed two different approaches to European federalism: the first began in 1951, a concrete path on which a kind of European federation was progressively built, while the second has considered the same path to be an obstacle in the attempt to move towards a possible European federation. According to the first group the process of integration has been better than nothing while, the opinion of the second is that the same process has been worse than nothing. Such Eurosceptic Federalism finds its roots in the anti-cosmopolitan federalism of the interwar debate and unifies, paradoxically, radical libertarians and convinced communitarians.
The EU has not yet found effective answers to constitutional crises in its Member States, in particular Hungary and Poland. Due to systemic problems of compliance with the common values of Art. 2, the legitimacy of the EU constitutional order and its smooth functioning are under threat, but the EU lacks instruments of direct enforcement and coercion. Several authors have therefore proposed to ‘federalize’ EU mechanisms and to guarantee to EU institutions, in particular the Court of Justice, more powers to intervene vis-à-vis Member States. However, the current Treaty framework presents a series of obstacles to federal-like enforcement. Solutions to national crises must ultimately respect the constitutional balance between the Union and the Member States.
For the last forty years, the European Union has been pursuing the goal of a unified system of patent law, which would make it possible for an invention to be protected, by EU law, throughout the territory of the Member-States, with a single application. This would simplify the patent protection system, making it easier, less costly and more secure, and would facilitate access to the internal market and promote scientific and technological development. However, problems might arise because of the plurality of legal sources that could be involved and due to the fact that not all countries want to be part of this new system. Nevertheless, the involvement of the majority of the Member-States in the Unitary Patent Package, through participating in an international agreement and in using the EU’s enhanced cooperation mechanism, is evidence of federalist manifestations of the EU as a sui generis organisation.
This paper explores the similarities between the EU’s system of administrative implementation of its legislative acts, and the German and American systems of administrative implementation of their respective federal laws. The article will also study the connection between the principle of sincere cooperation, established in the EU Treaties, and equivalent principles which exist in federal legal orders, namely the “Bundestreue” principle. The EU system appears to be closer to the German model of federalism than the US. Despite the federal inspiration, one cannot say that the principle of sincere cooperation is a federalising influence on the EU.
Francisco Pereira Coutinho and Martinho Lucas Pires
In 2017 we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Maastricht. The commemoration of these historic events was the perfect excuse for a critical and renewed discussion of European integration. It was also an opportunity for discussing the EU through the lens of “federalism”, i.e. to look at it from the perspective of federal theory and / or through its substantive and formal dimension. This issue of Perspectives on Federalism includes papers presented in conferences organized at Warsaw University in June 2016 and at Lisbon Nova Law School on May 2017 under the Jean Monnet Project “More EU - More Europe to Overcome the Crisis”. The articles discuss, either from a more general or from a more specific standpoint, within a variety of subjects, some of the federal features of the EU.
The European Social Dialogue, and its output, the European collective agreements, are intended to implement minimum standards of working conditions that bind all Member- States, in a logic of legal harmonisation of the European Union’s social objectives. However, despite some federal traits of the European Union (“EU”), since the beginning European social dialogue has faced numerous challenges, particularly when confronted with the need to balance economic interests, giving social policies a subsidiary role, and when facing the different agendas of each Member-State. This article proceeds with a historical analysis of the development of European Social Dialogue, its implementation stages, and past and current challenges, which can be divided in three phases: past experience, present experience and current challenges and, finally, an attempt to project what new social policies might hold for the future.
In a global context where popular referenda are increasingly used to decide contested issues, this paper aims at exploring the framework in which, in October 2017, two referenda took place in the Italian northern regions of Veneto and Lombardia to seek additional forms and conditions of autonomy within the Italian regional state as painted by the Constitution after the 2001 reform. By adopting mainly an analytical perspective, this contribution studies the political and constitutional underpinnings of the two referenda while at the same time providing a cursory comparative account of differential and asymmetric regionalism.