Taking the Language of “European Sovereignty” Seriously

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The weakness of the concept of European (Union) sovereignty. – III. The strengths of the language of “European sovereignty”. – IV. Conclusion.

Abstract: This Insight argues that the rise and spread of the notions of “European sovereignty” and “European Union sovereignty” must be taken seriously. Since 2017, they have become central categories in the main political discourses on the EU. The paper first addresses the question whether European (or EU) sovereignty is an adequate concept to give account of the nature, or the future, of European integration. It answers negatively. Then the Insight describes the claim for “European sovereignty” as a discursive form. As such, it performs different functions that must be analysed: the notion of European sovereignty permits to mobilise the EU actors who aim to ‘rebuild’ Europe and it serves to accommodate conflicting visions of what the EU is and should be. To focus on language permits to understand why “European sovereignty” gains momentum in the discourses and the literature on EU integration.

Keywords: European sovereignty – European Union sovereignty – language – concept – discursive form – power.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 1, pp. 287-297
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/392

* Professor of Public and European law, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, segolene.barbou-des-places@univ-paris1.fr.


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