The European Public Good and European Public Goods

23 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2020

See all articles by Neil Walker

Neil Walker

University of Edinburgh, School of Law

Date Written: October 15, 2020


Historically, The EU project has focused more on the generation and satisfaction of discrete Public Goods – initially peace and prosperity but gradually extending to a wider range of material goods (e.g. environmental protection, health and safety) and social goods (e.g. non-discrimination, education) than on the endorsement and pursuit of a singular sense of the European Public Good – the idea of a shared commitment to the pursuit of a common sense of what is good for a self-recognised collective. In other words, the EU, unlike the state, has had more the characteristics of a ‘teleocracy’ (an association committed to the pursuit of specific ends) than of a ‘nomocracy’ (an association defined by commitment to a general framework of living in common). For a long time, various conceptions of European integration, and of the role of law in European integration, were predicated on the view that the pursuit of Goods would nevertheless in time lead to the generation of a holistic sense of the common Public Good. Indeed, this expectation and projection of an incrementally evolved sense of the common European Good could be seen as an important aspect of the supranational constitutional imaginary. The paper examines both the successes and the long-term limitations of such an approach, and analyses the difficulties and dangers associated with ongoing efforts to place Public Goods and the Public Good in a productive relationship at the supranational level.

Keywords: law, Public Good, Public Goods, solidarity, European Union, constitutionalism, neo-functionalism, ordoliberalism

Suggested Citation

Walker, Neil, The European Public Good and European Public Goods (October 15, 2020). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/20, Available at SSRN: or

Neil Walker (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh, School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics