Federalism in 3D: The Reimagination of Political Community in the European Union
Forthcoming in Catolica Law Review (2016)
Europa Working Paper No 2016/06
24 Pages Posted: 8 May 2016
Date Written: May 6, 2016
In this paper, I consider the mixed virtue of the federal perspective in relation to certain key recent developments in the 3D (i.e. sub-state, state, supranational) territorial politics of the EU. I argue that, on account of its statist legacy, the invocation of federalism considered either as a technique of government or as a direct expression of an affective relationship between people and supranational polity is of limited or even negative value in the EU. Yet federalism, when drawing on its deeper historical roots and considered instead as a basis for imaginative reflection on the nature and proper trajectory of an unprecedented political configuration, fares rather better. Here, indeed, the federal imagination continues to provide a direct challenge to the sovereigntist perspective with its emphasis on the ultimate authority of either state or supranational levels, but does so with complex, unpredictable and as yet unresolved effects, given the still powerful drag of that sovereigntist perspective. In pursuing this point, I focus on a particularly topical and challenging part of the European federal puzzle. I concentrate on the third sub-state dimension of the EU’s 3D ‘federated’ structure, as evidenced in recent developments in Scotland and Catalonia in particular, and on how the development of the EU’s federal imaginative example should and can alter the spirit in which new sovereignty claims at this level are both made and received.
Keywords: federalism, Catalonia, Scotland, sovereignty, nationalism, European Union
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