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The Federal VisionLegitimacy and Levels of Governance in the United States and the European Union$
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Kalypso Nicolaidis and Robert Howse

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245000

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199245002.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2020

Federalism in the European Union: Rhetoric and Reality

Federalism in the European Union: Rhetoric and Reality

(p.161) 6 Federalism in the European Union: Rhetoric and Reality
The Federal Vision

Andrew Moravcsik

Oxford University Press

Moravcsik attacks the view, shared by Euro‐enthusiasts and Euro‐sceptics alike, that current developments in the EU herald the advent of a European federal state; according to Moravcsik, the EU lacks and is likely to continue to lack the fundamental competences that would make it federal. To make this point, Moravcsik emphasizes what the EU does not do and is unlikely to take on in the foreseeable future, spelling out how the ‘EU plays almost no role—at most a weak sort of international coordination—in most of the issue‐areas about which European voters care most, such as taxation, social welfare provision, defence, high foreign policy, policing, education, cultural policy, human rights, and small business policy’. Moravcsik finds this not surprising, since the EU's built‐in ‘constitutional constraints’, from fiscal to legislative and regulatory powers, create a strong bias towards the status quo. His normative conclusion that the ‘existing hybrid status quo is sufficiently efficient and adequately legitimate to resist any fundamental institutional reform’ seems to echo Weiler's conclusion in Ch. 2 that the EU ‘ain’t broke, so don’t fix it’, although the two authors get to this position from opposite premises: Weiler thinks that today's EU founded on constitutional tolerance—bowing to the majority without being one people—is an amazingly ambitious project, while Moravcsik celebrates the EU's character as ‘a second‐best constitutional compromise designed to cope pragmatically with concrete problems’. The three sections of the chapter: (1) describe the existing confederal structure of EU institutions, focussing on the substantive narrowness and institutional weakness of its mandate; (2) examine the causes of this narrow and weak institutional mandate in the European constitutional settlement; and (3) assess the normative consequences for the democratic legitimacy of the EU state structure.

Keywords:   confederal structure, confederalism, democratic legitimacy, European constitution, European institutions, EU, federalism, institutional mandate, institutional weakness, legitimacy, state structure

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