Developing a Constitution for Europe

Article excerpt

DEVELOPING A CONSTITUTION FOR EUROPE Edited by Erik Oddvar Eriksen, John Erik Possum, and Agustin José Menéndez. London: Routledge, 2004. xvii, 276pp, £75.00 cloth (ISBN o4153-2194-8), £20.99 Paper (ISBN 0-4153-7534-7)

Well before the European Union expanded its membership from 15 to 25 member states in early 2005, Jonathan Golub referred to it as "a laboratory experiment of globalization." The aim of Developing a Constitution for Europe is to outline how the EU-an ambitious and relatively successful historical experiment in the international arena-is attempting to forge itself into a more popularly supported, legitimate and hence stronger democratic polity through the establishment of a single written European constitution.

The attempt to democratically constitutionalize such a heterogeneous entity is particularly notable for readers of the International Journal when one considers that the very detailed features of this constitutionalized system of governance are concerned with the EU's ability to act more effectively not simply domestically, but externally as well. More extraordinary perhaps is the stated intention of the EU's proposed constitution to have the EU act in a manner that explicitly respects the norms of the charter of the United Nations.

In order to determine both the content and the process required to improve the input and output legitimacy of a widening and deepening EU, the book first considers whether the EU even needs a democratic and written constitution at all. If it does, what fundamental principles, political-legal arrangements and sources of citizens' allegiance must be constituted? The charter of fundamental rights (2000) and the convention on the future of Europe which produced the draft treaty establishing a constitution for Europe (2004) provide the best indications so far of what Europeans view as the basics for a democratic constitution for this "union of states and peoples."

The second general aim of the book is to determine whether such an ambitious constitution-one that is both internationalist and supranationalist-can even be made, especially by such a postmodern and diverse entity as the EU. This question regarding the viability of such an ambitious and historical experiment takes on extra resonance after the problems that struck the constitution's ratification process in the middle of 2005 in France and Holland. …