Signe Rehling LarsenFeb 19, 2021
The Constitutional Theory of the Federation and the European Union
Oxford University Press 2021
“The autarkic European nation-state, if it ever existed, was the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless it is the myth of the self-sufficient nation-state that lies at the heart of much scholarship on post-WWII European integration,” writes Signe Rehling Larsen in The Constitutional Theory of the Federation and the European Union (Oxford University Press, 2021).
“Instead of interpreting the EU in line with previous projects of market creation through empire and federation, the story of the post-WWII project of European integration is often interpreted as a ‘conflict’ or ‘competition’ between the Union and the Member States as the dominant forces in a zero-sum game”.
Without taking sides in Europe’s proxy culture war, Larsen’s ground-breaking new book of “political jurisprudence” dispenses with the state as a template for the EU. Rather, she examines the “federal union of states” in America before the Civil War, Germany’s 19th-century experiments with confederations, and the imperial experience to understand a union that is anything but sui generis.
Signe Rehling Larsen is a Fellow by Examination at Magdalen College, Oxford and was previously a Max Weber Fellow in Law at the European University Institute in Florence.
*The author's own book recommendations are Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present by Gary Gerstle (Princeton University Press, 2015) and Cars, Trains, Ships and Planes: A Visual Encyclopedia to Every Vehicle (DK Children, 2015).
Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.