PRAVNI ZAPISI • Year IV • No. 1 • pp. 27-61
CONSTITUTION WITHOUT DEMOS: WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION ALREADY HAVE A CONSTITUTION
Prof. dr Violeta Beširević
Redovna profesorka, Pravni fakultet Univerziteta Union u Beogradu
Pravni zapisi, No. 1/2013, pp. 27-61
Original Scientific Article
European Union; constitution; constitutionalization; constitutionalism; political messianism; demos; Lisbon Treaty; democratic deficit; human rights; Kadi case
When in 2007, after the rejection of the Constitution for Europe in France and the Netherlands, European politicians defined their mandate to work on the Reform Treaty, they explicitly promised that ‘the constitutional concept is … abandoned’ and that ‘the Treaty of European Union and Treaty on Functioning of the Union will not have a constitutional character.’ In its Maastricht and Lisbon decisions, the German Federal Constitutional Court concluded that the European Union did not have a constitution since it did not have demos. The main purpose of this article is to prove the opposite. Accepting Weiler’s argumentation that the EU is a political messianic venture par excellence, the author claims that, in addition to pursuing messianic goals, Europe’s political elite has for a long time been streaming to root Political Messianism into democracy and position the EU in the global world. The main vehicle to transform the Community/Union from an international to a constitutional legal order has been constitutionalism. Starting from the French revolutionary Declaration, which declared civil rights and in Article 16 proclaimed ‘a society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all,’ the author has showed that the Union has an antirevolutionary, uncodified and evolutive constitution, whose elements are to be found in the Lisbon Treaty and its related documents, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice, and to some extent in the constitutional orders of the Member States. The European constitution does not mirror a national constitution in the sense that it is attributable to the people, nor it is a revolutionary product aimed at limiting the government in the name of individual freedom. It is a rule of law-oriented type of constitution, born in the process of constitutionalization and aimed at submitting public power to law on the Union level. From the perspective of modern constitutionalism, the quality of this constitution is a matter of concern, since it has managed to connect the rule of law with the protection of human rights, but has failed to do the same with regard to democracy. Despite some efforts to entrench the democratic principle in the Lisbon Treaty, the present crisis in the Union is to a great extent the result of this failure. The fact that democratic defects at the Union level appear less visible when pitted against the state of affairs in national constitutional systems cannot mitigate this failure. Yet, assuming that the EU will survive the present crisis and having in mind that the Union is ‘work in progress’, the issue which still remains open is whether the future efforts to eliminate the defects of the European Constitution should be tied to traditional ways of thinking about democratic accountability within nation states, or one should stop thinking in terms of a Westphalian nation-state, and accept that transnational systems can provide a cure for democratic failings in ways that differ from traditional postulates of democracy.