The sovereign strikes back: a judicial perspective on multi-layered constitutionalism in Europe

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Authors: András Sajó, Renáta Uitz

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-1-33-53

Keywords: constitutional identity; constitutionalism; democracy; globalisation; human rights


This article covers current trends in global constitutional development. For many years, so-called multilevel or multi-layered constitutionalism achieved remarkable progress. New supranational actors were established that received various competencies from nation states via delegation. A typical example of this was the creation of international courts for the protection of human rights, the best known of which is the European Court for Human Rights. Another well-known example is the project of European integration that resulted in the establishment of the European Union. However, the process of transferring competencies to supranational institutions has shown a dip in progress over the past few years because of the opposition of some states. An important reason for refusing the further internationalization of constitutional law is to preserve the so-called constitutional identity of these nation states. The authors of this article provide an ambivalent assessment of this new trend. On the one hand, the isolation of nation states, especially of the governments of these nation states, from influence from abroad, which could negatively impact human rights protection in those countries. On the other hand, the established model of multilevel constitutionalism suffers from some serious defects. The most important of these defects that supranational institutions are not sufficiently controlled by democratically legitimate authorities. Moreover, they have not become such authorities themselves. Due to the lack of democratic control, the governments of nation states obtain additional opportunities to influence supranational institutions and, through them, their own countries. These opportunities refer to competencies that are typically limited under national constitutions.

About the authors: Renáta Uitz – Professor, Chair of the Comparative Constitutional Law Program of the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary; András Sajó – Professor, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary; Judge, European Court of Human Rights (2008–2017).

Citation: Uitz R., Sajó A. (2018). Suveren nanosit otvetnyy udar: sudebnaya perspektiva mnogourovnevogo konstitutsionalizma v Evrope [The sovereign strikes back: a judicial perspective on multi-layered constitutionalism in Europe]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.1(122), pp.33–53. (In Russian).


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