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“Deja Vu All Over Again:” Constitutional Economics and European legal Integration

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Existing theories of regional integration do not satisfactorily explain European legal integration. Like the bears’ porridge, one explains too much, another too little, and yet another requires unnecessary information. Constitutional economics, viewing regional integration as a process producing a constitution, is able to explain both momentum toward and resistance to legal integration in a parsimonious fashion. Further, it produces a unique analysis of the current circumstances of European legal integration, revealing that the Kompetenz–Kompetenz debate addresses the fundamental dilemma of compound republics. This also discloses that European integration has produced a novel answer to this old question.

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  1. The differences between this statement and a neofunctionalist perspective will become clearer below.

  2. Craig and de Burca (1998) report that the Conseil d’Etat “appeared to accept the premises” of the comissaire’s argument (based on Article 55), though it adopted the conclusion without stating its reasoning.

  3. Usually abbreviated “BVerfG” to avoid confusion with the Bundesverwaltungsgericht, the Federal Administrative Court. Since the latter does not appear outside of this footnote, the simpler abbreviation is used.

  4. Known as the contrary act doctrine.

  5. “Fundamental rights” and “basic rights” are different translations of the same German word, Grundrechte.

  6. SpA Granital v. Amministrazione delle Finanze.

  7. Interestingly, the sole instance in which the ECJ has refused to expand the scope of supranational authority is in regards to the proposed accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights, which coincidentally would have subjected EU law (and ECJ decisions) to the scrutiny of the European Court of Human Rights.

  8. To the author’s knowledge.

  9. Neoliberal institutional consciously borrows the concept of hegemon and fundamental assumptions about its behavior from neorealism; indeed, the concept of hegemon would retain very little meaning once separated from those assumptions.

  10. For more on this in the individual case, see Hobbes and Locke.

  11. For more on this as regards individuals, see Buchanan (1993).

  12. For more on this, see Griffith (2001).


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The author wishes to thank Clark Gibson, Cameron Theis, and participants at the 2001 Southern Political Science Association for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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Correspondence to Nathan D. Griffith.

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Griffith, N.D. “Deja Vu All Over Again:” Constitutional Economics and European legal Integration. Constit Polit Econ 17, 15–29 (2006).

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