Work Package II – University of Copenhagen

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The evolution of European integration suggests the emergence of a deep interdependence between law and politics in terms of the formation of strongly juridified yet market-driven supranational European polity. This supranationally-constitutionalized yet still nationally-embedded form of law and politics (Wind and Weiler, 2003) is increasingly challenged by global shifts across some of its most foundational subject-areas. This work package posits that the areas of supranational European integration perhaps most strongly challenged by contemporary processes of global reconfiguration are European markets and European human rights.

The globalization of markets pushes the free-market space of EU-Europe to deal with new increasingly regulated global and regional markets. This is clearly the case with regard to the WTO, but the proliferation of regional integration across the world in Latin America, Africa and Asia forces European market law to find new ways of interacting, legally and politically, with these new regimes. This raises significant problems for Europe as a market-driven polity as the regulation of the EU common market no longer is only defined in Brussels, but is increasingly the outcome of legal and political processes beyond Europe. For a polity already under significant criticism for its lack of democratic base, what is the impact of this increased globalization of markets, which ultimately implies that Europe’s foundational logic of an ever closer union via an ever larger market can no longer be determined within Europe, but is increasingly decided elsewhere within a new global configuration?

The current globalization of human rights norms both challenges and manifestly enlarges Europe’s dominant position as producer of universals within this key subject-area of ‘global culture’. At the global level, this is increasingly the case with regard to a growing number of UN human rights bodies. At the regional level, regional human rights regimes such as the Inter-American and African systems are now changing from being at the receiving end of human rights ‘made in Europe’ to themselves becoming contenders for defining universals. And at a more general level, European style constitutionalism has provided over the past three decades an important and influential template for liberalising and democratising societies in Africa and Asia (Ginsburg 2003). However, at the same time semi-authoritarian expanding economies such as China and several Chinese-influenced African countries visibly challenge the democratic constraints on government that is a central normative plank of the European constitutional model. This raises two deep questions: First, how is Europe going to respond to new forms of governance and alternative visions of human rights and democracy that are not necessarily firmly rooted in European history? And second, how do alternative understandings of human rights and constitutionalism play out in the field of global economic competition, especially when some of the most important challengers to the European model appear to be those societies that are currently gaining the most power in the new global order?

In both cases, EU-Europe is in a situation of not simply facing threats to its unique accomplishments in terms of regional integration. Europe is also faced with a set of new unique possibilities for influencing global society (Therborn 2002). The dilemma now faced is that the established legal-politico space is likely to transform, particularly with regard to the role of the member-states, as the reach of European integration can no longer be developed principally against the backdrop of intra-European legal and political processes. This raises fundamental issues with regard to both European law and politics.

Sub-projects of work package II

The work package will firstly trace the emergence and transformation of the unique European legal-politico space from the 19th century and throughout the 20th century, and secondly use this broader interpretive scheme for apprehending contemporary challenges and suggesting viable ways forward (Cohen and Madsen 2007, Madsen 2010). Using interdisciplinary methods the longer legal and political processes leading to the current challenges and its legal and political consequences for the European legal-politico space and its specific forms of legal and political legitimacy will be explored.

This analysis will sit behind the two sub-projects, which will examine more specific global issues with regard to:

A)  The interface of EU market law and the WTO

B) The place of European human rights and European constitutionalism within the changing global order

A third sub-project examines:

C)  The spread of the European model of supranational legal-politico space Africa and Latin America.