Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


V Conclusions

In this chapter, we began by outlining the paradox of the `European' polity, so far as it struggles - in the context of both the studies and practices of governance in relation to EI - to escape the touch of stateness. The earlier sections of the chapter outlined a methodological stance which establishes upon the constructivist middle ground where scholars can debate ontological shifts and meta-theoretical moves. In our case, we have chosen to focus on the embeddedness and embedding of norms, using the concept of the embedded acquis communautaire as an example of the strong structuring properties of norms, and their impacts upon actors as guiding social norms, as well as legal rules. At the same time, this paper has emphasized the fluid nature of norms, that is, on the one hand, norms may achieve strong structuring power, on the other hand, however, norms are created through interaction. The processes of norm construction and rule-following are mutually constitutive. In this conclusion, it is important to highlight the relevance and interest of this analysis, which elaborates upon the general field of constitutionalism as an object of study and analysis and the specific case of flexibility.

We identified a tension between the formal and the abstract in EU constitutionalism, and subsequently sought to highlight the continuing paradoxical relationship between a non-state polity and a touch of stateness presented often implicitly in analyses of this polity. With a view to overcoming the touch of stateness, we turned to constructivist approaches arguing that the focus on the social and an ontological shift away from state actors offers a fresh perspective on the `European' polity as sui generis, yet comparable. We argue that constitutionalism might be about fundamental ordering principles which have a validity outwith the formal setting of the nation state. Yet, in practice the ways in which these principles find expression in the EU's legal order are either frequently dependent upon premises about the `good society' which draw directly upon the normative properties of states, or are drawn into the Court of Justice's design of a federalized `Community of law', in which the spirit of that community draws strength from the extent to which the EU as legal order apes a statal order.

It follows that reconceived on the basis of a constructivist ontology which allows a focus on norms-and their emergence and transformation from the social to the legal-constitutionalism presents a research area that is key to understanding and explaining the specific non-state conditions of the `European' polity. Thus, we propose identifying the emergence and impact of norms in various policy sectors. In this chapter we particularly stressed the IGC processes as an arena in which social norms emerge (Wallace 2000). With reference to the principle of flexibility and its increasing social acceptance as well as legal insertion in the treaties, we suggest that norms are a factor which structures, for example, the redefining of the constitutional scope of the Euro-polity as it has shifted from Community to Union, and as it transforms once again in the wake of the Treaty of Amsterdam and the vital structural and political changes which that has introduced.

Top Of Page|Previous|Title|Next