A Composite European Constitution
On January 10, 2007, Leonard F.M. Besselink â?? professor of European Constitutional Law in the Faculty of Law of the University of Utrecht â?? was inaugurated the Jean Monnet Chair in European Constitutional Law. This book, written in both English and Dutch, contains Besselink's complete inaugural address. Besselink discusses the nature of the European constitutional order, understood as the sum total of national constitutions along with the European Union constitutional order. The book points out some of the shortcomings of describing this as a 'multilevel' constitutional order, which hinges on ideas of the autonomy and separateness of the various constitutional orders. In this respect, thinking in 'levels' is a symptom of hierarchical structures, which cannot adequately explain the present constitutional arrangement in Europe. Instead of this, the book argues for understanding the European constitutional order as an overarching, dynamic complex of mutually influencing political and legal orders, in which heteronomy plays a far larger role than is admitted under the old paradigm of autonomous and separate orders which is implicit in the image of the present constitutional arrangement as one which is split into a variety of 'levels.' The approach taken by the author suggests a shift in paradigm, which is illustrated on the points of the primacy of EC law, fundamental rights protection by the Court of Justice, and the role of national parliaments.
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