Double Sovereignty in Europe? A Critique of Habermas's Defense of the Nation-State

25 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2017 Last revised: 15 May 2018

See all articles by Vlad Perju

Vlad Perju

Boston College - Law School

Date Written: March 13, 2017


Jürgen Habermas’s influential account of the transnationalization of democracy is typically seen as a bold attempt to articulate the political-philosophical foundations of European integration. Habermas posits an identity split between individuals as citizens of their nation states and (the same) individuals as members of the future European Union. According to the dual sovereignty thesis, nation states and the EU are co-original and co-determinate.

I challenge this conception on two grounds. First, split identity is a source of fragmentation that subverts the transnationalization of democracy. It would be irrational for EU citizens to partake in a project that empowers states to undermine European unification. Second, Habermas misinterprets European constitutional doctrine. The doctrines and practice of European constitutionalism do not provide support for the dual sovereignty thesis. In reality, European constitutionalism calls for a bolder jurisprudential account of European unification than Habermas’s concern with preserving the role of constitutional nation-states can provide.

Keywords: Habermas, European constitutionalism, democracy, sovereignty, political identity

Suggested Citation

Perju, Vlad, Double Sovereignty in Europe? A Critique of Habermas's Defense of the Nation-State (March 13, 2017). Texas International Law Journal, Vol. 53 (1) (Forthcoming, 2018); Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 443. Available at SSRN: or

Vlad Perju (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

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