1st Edition

European Sovereignty, Legitimacy, and Power

By Bart M.J. Szewczyk Copyright 2021
    240 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    240 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book shows how the EU’s dual sovereignty–legitimacy problem can be resolved through the political concept of European citizenship, which can serve both to define the scope of European sovereignty and to justify EU power beyond national democracy.

    It reconceptualizes the EU’s legitimacy problem and demonstrates how sources of legitimacy can be identified and give rise to European sovereignty. It argues that sovereignty should be based on the will of citizens acting through various political bodies within the EU—city halls, regional entities, national governments, and EU institutions—and develops a general theory, arguably applicable to any political order. The EU is an unprecedented political project that is in tension with traditional forms of state legitimation based on national democracy, as nationalists and populists throughout Europe often make clear. Against this backdrop, the book fully articulates the notion of European sovereignty and argues that the EU’s sources of legitimacy are based on European citizenship and national democracy.

    This book will be of key interest to scholars and students of EU politics, European integration, international institutions, and international relations.


    1. Theories of Sovereignty and Legitimacy

    2. Insufficient Solutions to the EU’s Sovereignty-Legitimacy Problem

    3. Internal Sources of EU Principles

    4. External Sources of EU Principles

    5. European Citizenship and National Democracy



    Bart M.J. Szewczyk is Adjunct Professor at Sciences Po in Paris, France.

    "This book insightfully examines a problem associated with all divided-power systems, but which assumes special salience in the European Union context, namely, the urgency of reconciling the effective exercise of authority at the central or federal-like level and the assertedly compelling interests of a constituent entity, in this case the EU Member States, whose interests are subject to qualified majority voting. Szewczyk demonstrates that, while maintenance of this balance is feasible, it is an ongoing challenge. The book is not only valuable for those seeking to appreciate the dimensions of this challenge, but also instructive for the actors that are responsible for meeting it."

    George Bermann, Jean Monnet Professor of European Union Law, Columbia Law School

    "The question as to whether the EU can rightly be called a sovereign entity or at least shares sovereignty with the member states is still contested. Bart Szewczyk’s book takes a fresh look at the problem and makes suggestions for improving the legitimacy of the EU, based on the political concept of EU citizenship."

    Dieter Grimm, Former Justice of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, Professor of Public Law at Humboldt University Berlin

    "Szewczyk offers an incisive analysis of the European Union’s dual sovereignty–legitimacy problem. He proposes a convincing reconceptualization of the elements of the European project as a way of making it a more efficient and perfect Union. This is an important book."

    Michael Reisman, Myres S. McDougal Professor of International Law, Yale Law School