Constitutionalism has become a byword for legitimate government,
but is it fated to lose its relevance as constitutional states
relinquish power to international institutions? This book evaluates
the extent to which constitutionalism, as an empirical idea and
normative ideal, can be adapted to institutions beyond the state by
surveying the sophisticated legal and political system of the
European Union. Having originated in a series of agreements between
states, the EU has acquired important constitutional features like
judicial review, protections for individual rights, and a hierarchy
of norms. Nonetheless, it confounds traditional models of
constitutional rule to the extent that its claim to authority rests
on the promise of economic prosperity and technocratic competence
rather than on the democratic will of citizens. Critically
appraising the European Union and its legal system, this book
proposes the idea of 'functional constitutionalism' to describe
this distinctive configuration of public power. Although the EU is
the most advanced instance of functional constitutionalism to date,
understanding this pragmatic mode of constitutional authority is
essential for assessing contemporary international economic
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