Constitutional Disagreement in Europe and the Search for Pluralism

24 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2010

See all articles by Gareth T. Davies

Gareth T. Davies

VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 25, 2010


This paper has two purposes. One is to suggest that constitutional pluralism is an empty idea. Where there are multiple sources of apparently constitutional law one always takes precedence and the other is then no longer constitutional. Dialogue may help legal the legal sources reconcile, but it does not change the normative hierarchy between them. The second purpose is to make a concrete proposal for embedding pluralist thinking within EU law. The proposal is in the spirit of Maduro’s suggestion that national courts should take account of EU interests in interpreting national law, and also in the spirit of Kumm’s suggestion that EU law should be self-policing. However, unlike Maduro it focuses on the need for a more pluralist approach within EU law, rather than national law, and unlike Kumm it focuses on the need to prevent EU law becoming a threat to national constitutions, rather than mechanisms for defusing conflict if things get that far. The two purposes are linked by a common perception: that the investment in constitutional pluralism by scholars has not brought satisfactory returns, yet pluralism is too attractive an idea to abandon it hastily.

Keywords: eu law, constitutional pluralism, pluralism, constitutional law, proportionality, supreme courts, supremacy

Suggested Citation

Davies, Gareth T., Constitutional Disagreement in Europe and the Search for Pluralism (February 25, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Gareth T. Davies (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Law ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam

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