1st Edition

Europe's Hidden Federalism Federal Experiences of European Integration

By Bojan Kovacevic Copyright 2017
    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The hidden federal features of the European Union help explain the challenges of legitimacy, democracy and freedom that face an unfinished political community. Ideas about federalism and the reality of existing federal states cannot be sharply divided in an analysis of the EU’s multilevel political order, but so far, both scholars and major decision makers have shown interest only in the normal functioning of federal systems: ignoring the dilemma of the federation’s legitimate authority has resulted in an existential crisis for the EU which has become ever more manifest over recent years. This book employs a combination of political philosophy and political science, of federal philosophic ideas and their traces in real federal institutions, in order to achieve the task of understanding the federal features of the EU governance system.

    The first part of the work focuses on building an appropriate theoretical framework to explain the new meanings attached to familiar notions of democracy, legitimacy and citizenship in the context of a political community like the EU. In the second part the federal features of the EU’s political system are examined in comparison to other current and historical federal perspectives like the US, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Germany. Through an analysis of the hidden federal aspects of the EU and the links between hidden federalism and the EU’s legitimacy crisis, this book reveals the patterns that should be avoided and gives us guidelines that should be followed if the EU is to become democratic and politically united without jeopardising the state character of its members.

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Part I: Federalism and the Modern State – Friends or Foes?

    Chapter 2: Federalism, Freedom and Order

    Chapter 3: Federalism and Democracy

    Chapter 4: Federalism and the Making of Nations

    Chapter 5: Federalism and the Challenge of Legitimacy

    Chapter 6: The Challenge of Carl Schmitt for the Theory and Practice of Federalism

    Part II: An Attempt to Build European Federation in the Absence of Europeans

    Chapter 7: Federal Features of the European Union

    Chapter 8: Federalism and Democracy in the European Union

    Chapter 9:Political Citizenship Deficit in the EU – Relevancy of the Historical Models of Federal Nation Building

    Conclusion: Hidden Federalism and Crisis


    Bojan Kovačević is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade. As a Swiss Government scholarship holder he wrote his PhD thesis 'Federal features of the EU governance system' at the Institute of Federalism, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. His research interests include history of political thought, modern political theory, political systems, theory of federalism and political theory of constitutionalism. At the Faculty of political sciences he teaches at the following courses: 'EU constitutionalism', 'Governing compound political communities', 'Managing crisis in the European Union', 'Political system of European Union' and 'Regionalism in the European Union'. He has published two books in Serbian, Hidden Federalism. Federal Features of the European Integration Process [Skriveni Federalizam. Federalističko iskustvo u procesima evropskih integracija] (Albatros plus, Belgrade, 2013) and The Role of the Regions in the EU’s Political and Economic System [Mesto i uloga regiona u političkom i ekonomskom sistemu Evropske unije] (Službeni glasnik, Belgrade, 2009). The book Hidden federalism, Federal experiences in the European integration process (in Serbian) was shortlisted for the award 'Nikola Milošević' (Radio Belgrade 2), as one of the three best Serbian books in the field of philosophy, theory of literature and esthetics in 2013.

    "The study of federalism is finally coming back to EU studies. Contrary to mainstream’s approaches that continue to stress the sui generis or exceptional nature of the EU, Kovacevic’s book merits the highest consideration for the successful attempt to conceptualize the EU through the perspective of comparative federalism." - Sergio Fabbrini, LUISS Guido Carli, Rome.

    "This book gives an exhaustive and critical evaluation of the situation of the European Union. It compares the achievement of the EU with the achievements of other federal experiences (USA, Swiss, Yugoslavia, but also Germany) and introduces the interesting idea that it is useful to compare also with unsuccessful federations such as Yugoslavia.The author succeeds in presenting the construction of the EU in the light of the federal theory and his critical methodological claim against the mainstream of political science leads him to rehabilitate the field of political philosophy and legal theory with true success." - Olivier Beaud, Univ. of Pantheon-Assas (Paris II)

    "This is an outstanding monograph that gives a most interesting and creative view on federalism and will be of interest to scholars in political theory and practitioners in EU issues across all EU countries." - Thomas Fleiner, Prof. Emeritus, University Fribourg.

    "The book focuses on the idea that EU can learn from successful federal countries, like the USA or Switzerland, but it must do so from the perspectives of political science and political philosophy together. In the year of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome (1957), this book offers a lucid analysis of the turning point at which the EU now finds itself. If the EU’s "hidden" (or not so hidden) federalism is clear to most scholars and analysts following the Maastricht Treaty, Kovacevic’s work asks whether it is advisable for the EU to break its baroque institutional structure at a moment when there is structural d