European Constitutional Imaginaries: On Pluralism, Calculemus, Imperium and Communitas

iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 242, 2021

IMAGINE Paper No. 16

24 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2021 Last revised: 15 Apr 2021

See all articles by Jiri Priban

Jiri Priban

Cardiff University - Cardiff Law School

Date Written: March 1, 2021


This chapter draws on the theory of societal constitutionalism to analyse polysemy and polyvalence of the European constitutional imaginaries. It argues that European constitutional imaginaries have to be distinguished from the imagination of EU constitutional theory as much as European political ideologies and utopias. They spontaneously evolve in European society and, despite their theoretical contextualisations and uses, cannot be purposively constructed by theorists to justify integration and constitutionalisation of Europe. Imaginaries are societal power which precedes structures of political power and constitutes the common understanding of social reality despite all its fragmentations, diffusions and differentiations. The chapter thus highlights the sociological meaning of the concept of imaginary as background power of both national and transnational legal and political systems which determines legitimacies and illegitimacies in EU law and politics. It subsequently analyses specific imaginaries of EU integration and their general components. It concludes by arguing that these European constitutional imaginaries are part of societal constitutionalism of the EU beyond constraints of law and politics and the old semantics driven by the imaginary unity of statehood.

Keywords: constitutional imaginary, EU constitutionalism, legitimacy of EU law and politics, societal constitutionalism, systems theory of EU law

Suggested Citation

Priban, Jiri, European Constitutional Imaginaries: On Pluralism, Calculemus, Imperium and Communitas (March 1, 2021). iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 242, 2021, IMAGINE Paper No. 16, Available at SSRN: or

Jiri Priban (Contact Author)

Cardiff University - Cardiff Law School ( email )

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