EU Citizenship as a Constitutional Restraint on the EU's Multilevel Governance of Public Goods

25 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2018

See all articles by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: 2017


This contribution suggests a ‘republican interpretation’ of EU citizenship rights based on the following three propositions: First, the more globalization transforms national into transnational public goods (PGs), the more democratic and republican constitutionalism require designing and implementing transnational ‘PGs treaties’ as ‘democratic law’ empowering citizens to invoke and enforce precise and unconditional, multilevel market regulations and protection of PGs vis-à-vis multilevel governance institutions. Second, as EU law (e.g. Articles 2, 9-12 TEU) requires EU institutions and member states to protect constitutional, representative, participatory and deliberative democracy and limits all internal and external EU powers by fundamental rights and protection of PGs (res publica), EU citizens rightly challenge EU trade, investment and other treaties that privilege interest groups and undermine the ‘constitutional contract’ of citizens as codified in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EUCFR). Third, just as common market and competition law inside and beyond the EU protects citizen-driven ‘network governance’ and rights-based 'vigilance' of EU citizens embedded into comprehensive protection of fundamental rights and a ‘social market economy’ (Article 3 TEU), EU institutions should respond to the legitimacy- and rule-of-law-crises in other areas of EU governance by ‘re-connecting’ EU law with EU citizens as ‘democratic principals’ of multilevel governance agents. 'Anti-citizen clauses' in EU free trade agreements (FTAs) with non-European countries (like Article 30.6 CETA) and discriminatory 'arbitration privileges' for foreign investors illustrate ‘authoritarian dis-connect’ of EU bureaucrats from EU citizens; they risk undermining rule of law, constitutional democracy, and the ‘social market economy’ inside the EU.

Keywords: Constitutionalism; EU citizenship; Multilevel governance; Public goods; Republicanism

Suggested Citation

Petersmann, Ernst-Ulrich, EU Citizenship as a Constitutional Restraint on the EU's Multilevel Governance of Public Goods (2017). EUI Department of Law Research Paper No. 2017/12, Available at SSRN: or

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze

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