The Past of an Illusion? Pluralistic Theories of European Law in Times of “Crises”

Printer-friendly version

Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Pluralistic constitutional pluralism? Disaggregating constitutional pluralism. – II.1. Strategic pluralism. – II.2. Pluralistic federalism. – II.3. Judicial pluralism. – II.4. Pluralistic pluralism or pluralistic federalism? – III. The empirical shock: the second and the third European transformations. – III.1. The second European transformation. – III.2. Unravelling pluralism. – III.3. Encore: the third European transformation. – IV. Reconsidering pluralistic federalism. – IV.1. A nuanced positive assessment of the impact of the second European transformation. – IV.2. The blind spots. – V. Conclusion: which and whose constitutional theory of European integration?

Abstract: The deep transformation of the practice of European law calls for a systematic rethinking of the theories with the help of which European law is analysed, reconstructed and assessed. In this Article, I test the reconstructive potential and the normative soundness of constitutional pluralism as a constitutional theory to make sense of European integration. In Section II, I disaggregate the concept, by means of setting in their wider context the different conceptions of constitutional pluralism that had been advocated. In Section III, I show why the reconstructive potential of the most sophisticated version of constitutional pluralism, pluralistic federalism, has been drastically limited by the deep transformation of the practice of European law. In Section IV, I consider the limits of constitutional pluralism as a normative theory of European integration. The last section holds the conclusions.

Keywords: European Union law – constitutional theory – legal theory – European integration – constitutional pluralism – supremacy.

European Papers, Vol. 3, 2018, No 2, pp. 623-658
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/249

* Profesor Contratado Doctor Permanente I3, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Research Fellow, ARENA, Universitetet i Oslo,


European Forum


Forum Européen


Forum europeo


Foro Europeo