Europe: Transnational Constitutional Identity

Course Description: 

The European Union, while not yet a full-fledged federal democracy, has allowed for construction of a transnational constitutional model tailored to the special requirements of constitutionalism in the EU. In particular, fundamental rights are increasingly “Europeanized”, thanks to the interaction between the ECJ and the ECtHR, on the one hand, and domestic jurisdictions, on the other.   

At the same time, however, a new efflorescence of ethnic and religious feelings and separatist aspirations has emerged, challenging liberal and cosmopolitan projects of universal democracy, and also exposing the fragility of traditional constitutional democracy. 

This course is aimed at exploring the connections between these two parallel and seemingly antithetical contemporary European trends, one of them pointing to convergence while the other fosters divergence. Issues to be addressed include the following:

-Are conceptions of citizenship based on ethnicity, history or geography viable in the European pluralistic and heterogeneous polity?

-What role do religion and secularism play in the European integration process?

-Are gender and sexuality part of the European discourse concerning citizenship?

-Can citizenship be detached from the boundaries of the nation-state and linked directly to commitment to the very ideals of constitutionalism?

Learning Outcomes: 

• Ability to benefit from an informed, in-depth knowledge of constitutional problems due to a comparative perspective – advanced level

• Ability to benefit from an informed, in-depth familiarity with human rights problems via a comparative perspective – advanced level

• Ability to see and approach constitutional problems in a broader, theoretical perspective

• Ability to demonstrate an understanding of a broader context of constitutional problems

• Ability to demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the wider context of legal issues relating to human rights

• Ability to provide genuine solutions to complex constitutional and human rights problems using comparative arguments

• Ability to evaluate the foundations of the European legal systems: the assumptions, choices and values that have formed them;

• Ability to critically understanding of the strengths and limits of European law in regulating social and political processes.


Course requirements include regular class attendance, active participation in class discussion and 1 short paper (approx. words 2500). Class time will be divided between lectures and discussion. Each topic will be introduced by the instructor. The final grade will be determined in the light of the paper (80%) and of participation in class and discussion (20%).