Constitutions, Constitutionalism, and the European Union

26 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2008

See all articles by Paul P. Craig

Paul P. Craig

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law


The institutional reforms of the EU, coupled with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, have fuelled the debate about a European Constitution. This paper begins by examining the nature of constitutions and constitutionalism. The focus then turns to the EU itself. It is argued that the Community has indeed been transformed into a constitutional legal order, and that the arguments to the contrary are not convincing. This does not however mean that the EU has, or should have, a European Constitution cognisable as such which draws together the constitutional articles of the Treaties, together with the constitutional principles articulated by the European Court of Justice. The difficulties with this strategy are examined in detail, and the conclusion is that we should not at present pursue this course. It would be better to draw on the valuable work done by the European University Institute in its recent study in order to simplify and consolidate the Treaties.

Suggested Citation

Craig, Paul P., Constitutions, Constitutionalism, and the European Union. European Law Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 2, pp. 125-150, June 2001. Available at SSRN: or

Paul P. Craig (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

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