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Sovereignty in the EU Constitutional Order: Integrating Law and Political Science

34 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2009  

Cormac S. Mac Amhlaigh

University of Edinburgh - School of Law

Andrew R. Glencross

University of Stirling

Date Written: September 10, 2009


This paper examines how law and political science have studied the role played by sovereignty claims in the EU constitutional order. Typically, it is argued, the two disciplines have studied sovereignty in the EU from parallel perspectives, with the former emphasising the dimension of the internal sovereignty of the EU and the latter focusing on member states’ enduring external sovereignty in relation to the international system. This divergence is explained by virtue of contrasting institutional units of analysis (courts vs. representative institutions). The consequence is the absence of a shared understanding of where Kompetenz-Kompetenz, the power to decide who decides in the EU system, lies. In the light of this analysis, three models of sovereignty are then discussed as models for spanning the disciplinary boundary. These are the Westphalian, post-sovereign and confederal models of sovereignty. Amongst them, the paper concludes, it is the latter that seems to offer the greatest opportunities for reconciling insights from law and political science.

Keywords: sovereignty, European integration, interdisciplinarity, law, political science, international relations

Suggested Citation

Mac Amhlaigh, Cormac S. and Glencross, Andrew R., Sovereignty in the EU Constitutional Order: Integrating Law and Political Science (September 10, 2009). University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper No. 2009/20. Available at SSRN: or

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

Andrew Glencross

University of Stirling ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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