|Book Title||The Unity of the European Constitution|
|Book Author||Dann, Philipp, and Rynkowski, Michal (eds.)|
|Bibliographic Information||Springer, 2006, Pages : 394, $99.00, ISBN 3540354506|
The Unity of the European Constitution. Edited by Philip Dann and Michal Rynkowski. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer, 2006. Pp. 394. $99.00.
Reviewed by Matej Avbelj, PhD Researcher, European University Institute.
The Unity of the European Constitution is a typical event driven publication. It emerged out of the German-Polish seminar on the Constitutional Law of the European Union at the heyday of the European documentary constitutional debate. However, this is not to say that the book is yet another timely publication which would not make any original contribution as it is too often the case. To the contrary, it is apparent from the very title of the book that it focuses on what is certainly the most puzzling question of integration, namely how to achieve unity in the light of the EU's famous complexity, heterogeneity and diversity. Was the Constitutional Treaty an appropriate means for the achievement of that end? This is, essentially, the question that the contributors to the book endeavor to answer in their essays divided into four nicely delineated parts.
The first part addresses the general questions whereby the nature of the Constitutional Treaty, the methodology of European constitutional law, the perennial question of democracy beyond the state and the ever-contested principle of primacy of EU law are discussed. Especially, the latter can be heeded for shedding some fresh light on the otherwise weary European legal debate. The second and third part touch upon the institutional aspects of the Constitutional Treaty and on the examples of its sectoral differentiation which is nicely complemented by the last part that closes down by the presentation of the territorial and temporal aspects of unity.
The greatest strength of the book, as intimated above, is the right question that it asks which somehow ex ante guarantees interesting and intriguing reading. On the other hand, the fact that the book results from the seminar and thus contains sometimes quite unrelated essays certainly affects its coherence and overall message. It also lacks some theoretical profoundness for the reader can only with great difficulties dispel an impression that many of the essays either start with too strong theoretical assumptions, which themselves would need to be questioned, or they end half-way to the real kernel of the issue. Similarly, not infrequently, but unfortunately not very originally, the essays very much reiterate the prevailing mantra about the virtues of constitutionalization and about the need for ever more unity in the integration. Again, as the bulk of the EU scholarship, parts of this book postulate unity as an ideal and diversity or differentiation as a vice.
However, many of the essays nevertheless try to avoid this black and white approach and by challenging the unity dogma, by questioning the very notion of constitutionalization and by warning against the invisible, yet widespread, touch of stateness point to novel ways of understanding integration. These are ultimately the greatest asset of the book which, despite that it is apparently destined to become an exercise in legal history, can still teach us some constitutional lessons even in the forthcoming post-constitutional times.