Constitutional Pluralism

N. W. Barber

in The Constitutional State

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585014
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595318 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Constitutional Theory

Constitutional Pluralism

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The previous chapter argued that it was possible for a form of legal pluralism to arise within a legal order and, furthermore, that this was, or may become, a characteristic of a number of the legal orders that are connected to the European Union. This chapter reflects on a second type of pluralism, constitutional pluralism. It contends that this is distinguishable from legal pluralism, and that, additionally, constitutional pluralism also casts some light upon the nature of the European Union. This requires us to address a question which has often been raised in European scholarship: that is, whether the European Union is, or may become, a state, and what the implications would be for its citizens and Member States if the Union were to gain statehood. The chapter starts by considering two forms of constitutional ordering — the federation and the confederation — and compares those with the model of the state provided in earlier chapters. It then turns to the European Union, and contrasts that polity against these orderings, concluding that the Union stands somewhere between a federation and a confederation. It is the location of the Union in this conceptual borderland which generates a special, perhaps unique, form of constitutional pluralism.

Keywords: constitutional pluralism; federations; confederations; European Union; legal pluralism

Chapter.  5930 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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