N° 53, 2016/3 – European Federalism


Special Report: European Union and Federalism

Edited by Giacomo Delledonne and Giuseppe Martinico

Yves Mény – Preface: European Union and Federalism Impossible or Inevitable?

Giacomo Delledonne and Giuseppe Martinico – Introduction: European Federalism

Robert Schütze – Two-and-a-half Ways of Thinking about the European Union

This article argues that the sui generis theory is a ‘negative’ and ‘unhistorical’ theory. It lacks explanatory value for it is based on a conceptual tautology (Hay, 1966, 37): the European Union is… . what it is; and it is not.… what it is not! Second, the sui generis theory moreover only views the Union in negative terms – it is neither international organisation nor Federal State – and thus indirectly perpetuates the conceptual foundations of the Westphalian tradition. Is there a better way of thinking about the European Union? This article argues that ‘federal’ thinking provides a rich key to unlocking the nature of the European Union.

Giuseppe Martinico – The Federal Language and the European Integration Process: The European Communities viewed from the US

This paper aims to offer an analysis of the language and conceptual toolbox employed by comparative lawyers in the US during the first years of the European integration process, paying particular attention to important intellectual figures, namely Peter Hay and Eric Stein. Between the 1950s and 1980s, a substantial debate concerning the “strategies” of legal/political integration, used by European political actors, arose in several comparative legal reviews and journals. During those years many authors from both sides of the Atlantic compared their perspectives, considering the comparability between American and European integration. Still today we employ the federal language used by these first commentators (pre-emption, incorporation, supremacy clause) when describing key concepts of European Community (today European Union) law. This article looks at the origin of such linguistic inheritance.

François-Xavier Millet – European Federalism and National Identity The Path of Constitutionalism

The federal phenomenon can only be grasped in a purposive fashion: federalism strives to reach a fair balance between unity and diversity. Starting from this minimalistic definition, I shall determine, on the one hand, to what extent respect for Member State national identity preserves federalism in the European Union (i.e. embraces both unity and diversity) and, on the other hand, what that suggests as to the nature of this kind of federalism and, more broadly, of the European Union.

Giacomo Delledonne – Constitutional Homogeneity and Protection of Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law in the EU Legal Order

This essay aims at looking into the dialectic relationship between the constitutional orders of the Member States and the EU Constitution. Doing so, it will build upon the debate about a classic concept of legal analyses of federalism, i.e. constitutional homogeneity. The essay will focus on the reasons of the recent resurgence of an apparently weary notion within a very peculiar legal system such as the EU. The constitutional homogeneity clause, possibly entrenched in primary law by Art. 2 TEU, is seen as a possible remedy in order to cope with constitutional developments in some Member States, notably in Central and Eastern Europe. Which are the potential virtues and flaws of constitutional homogeneity?

Sigfrido Ramirez Pérez – The strange non-death of Federalism in the historiography of European integration

From the 1970s, federalism was the earliest historiographical paradigm used to analyse the process of european integration. In spite of this initial success, it became increasingly marginalised in the expanding historiography of this booming field of historical research. This was, to a large extent, due to the increasing domination in this field by researchers coming from the history of international relations and social and economic history. Having been used as a powerful narrative within and outside european institutions, federalist historiography lost momentum. Such a loss of centrality took place in spite of enjoying institutional support, and although some its hypothèses and conclusions had been confirmed by some of the most recent research. This article aims to explain such a paradox through an overview about the relevance of the federal principle in the context of the recent evolution of the historiography of european integration.


Alvaro Oleart Perez-Seoane: Christian Rauh, A Responsive Technocracy? EU Politicisation and the Consumer Policies of the European Commission, Colchester, ECPR Press, 2016.

Nathalie Berny: Nigel Haigh, EU Environmental Policy. Its Journey to Centre Stage, Abingdon, Earthscan/Routledge, 2016, 214 pages.