Constitutional Imaginaries of Europe
How have the EU member states imagined their statehood and constitutionalism in the context of their outer space – Europe and/or global world? Countries with quite different histories have come together in the integration project: former colonial empires, which never doubted their independent statehood, joined with states, whose existence has always depended on their relationship to the former – and the former’s recognition. Some have the history of a long-process of transformation from nation states to the member states (Bickerton), while others only regained independent statehood after a long period of vassalage that ended in 1989.
Member states’ constitutional relationship to the EU is defined, most narrowly, by various integration clauses in national constitutions, often balanced against provisions concerning constitutional identity by an increasingly complex body of jurisprudence produced by the highest courts. It has always been at the centre of public law scholarship’s attention (think of Oppenheimer or Slaughter/Weiler/Sweet Stone).
In this interest group we want to go deeper and examine the structure of constitutional thought (and the state theory – Staatslehre) as it developed in each member state, responding to the various transformations of the very integration project in which these member states participated, but also to various developments internal to the given state.
We are thus interested in “constitutional imaginaries” – sets of ideas and beliefs that help to motivate and at the same time justify the practice of government and collective self-rule. Although these ideas and beliefs are only “imagined”, they are no less important for the practice of government as institutions and office-holders are. They provide political action with an overarching sense and purpose recognized by those governed as legitimate.
The convenor of the working group is the principal investigator of IMAGINE: European Constitutional Imaginaries: Utopias, Ideologies and the Other (https://www.imagine-const.eu/), project funded by an ERC Starting Grant. Ideally, the collaborators to the working group would help to formulate the methodology for such investigation and possibly participate in the future comparative work to be conducted as part of the project and beyond.