This chapter examines how the European Union acquired distinctive constitution-like features. It begins with a discussion of three routes to constitutionalization: the first is through changes in the EU's primary law; the second focuses on ‘in between’ constitutionalization; and the third leads directly to the European Court of Justice and its jurisprudence. The chapter proceeds by discussing two developments that have shaped the EU constitutional order almost since the beginning: the emergence of a body of EU law constituting a set of higher-order legal rules, and the consolidation of the constitutional principle of representative democracy. It explains how the supremacy and direct effect of EU law, as well as the EU court's concern with the protection of fundamental rights, helped transform the EU into a constitutional polity. It also considers how the extension of the legislative, budgetary, and other powers of the European Parliament animated the constitutional principle.
A Constitutional Order in the Making
This chapter focuses on the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which comprises two courts: the CJEU and the General Court. It first provides an overview of the CJEU’s structure and functions, and then discusses some of its main rulings and their significance. It further considers rulings on the powers of the institutions, some key legal judgments made in response to questions referred to the CJEU by national courts, the impact of CJEU rulings on EU policy, and post-Maastricht trends in the CJEU and EU law. It also assesses the evolving political reactions towards the judgments of the Court, along with the debate over whether the member states have been able to effectively curb the CJEU’s radical jurisprudence.
Richard Corbett and Daniel Kenealy
This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the EU. Beginning with a discussion of the idea of democracy beyond the state, it explores academic debates about whether the EU suffers a ‘democratic deficit’. The chapter evaluates the EU along various dimensions, including how powers are separated and divided within the EU, the extent to which executive accountability is established, and the various mechanisms of representation in the EU. It explores the nature of European elections, the role of European political parties, the role of national parliaments in EU policy-making and recent innovations in the way that the president of the European Commission is chosen. The chapter concludes with a discussion of fundamental rights, values, and the rule of the law in the EU with a particular focus on recent developments in Hungary and Poland.
Nathaniel Copsey and Karolina Pomorska
This chapter examines the pattern of Poland’s relations with the European Union during the period 1989–2011. Poland took an early decision in 1989 to place European integration at the centre of its plans for democratization and modernization. Post-accession opinion in Poland on the EU was initially divided between an increasingly Europhile public and an occasionally Eurosceptic political class. By the time of the Polish Presidency of the EU in 2011, however, Poland had largely shed its reputation for awkwardness and had achieved a few policy successes, particularly in relations with its Eastern neighbours. The chapter explains how Poland came to join the EU and assesses the impact of its EU membership on domestic politics, public opinion, institutions, governance, and public policy. It concludes by considering the re-emergent divide between elite and public attitudes since the 2015 elections and tensions with the EU over the rule of law.