Contemporary Issues in EU Law



NB: Course will not be given in AY 2019-2020


"Contemporary issues in EU Law: Federalism in the European Union and in the United States of America"


This course aims to shed light on the complex EU integration process by comparing it with federalism in the United States. Students participating in this course will be familiarized with the essential features of EU and US federalism through the analysis of selected opinions of the US Supreme Court and of the European Court of Justice in various fields of law. They will discover that, although they differ in multiple ways, especially regarding the role of the federation in protecting fundamental rights/civil liberties, both the EU and the US federal systems increasingly present elements of convergence, for instance regarding free movement, the democratization of foreign policy or the use of fundamental rights as a tool of constitutional self-reinforcement.


General introduction to federalism in the United States and federalism in the EU, including an overview of historical and institutional variables.

Section I: Overview of convergences and differences between both legal systems in the field of free movement and citizenship rights (theory of ‘dormant’ commerce powers of the US; the close nexus between federalism and civil liberties in the US v. theory of purely internal situations/interstate movement requirement in EU law).

Section II: Analysis of the role of courts in the dynamics of federal constitutionalism in the EU and in the US (centralization v. decentralization of judicial review; abstract v. concrete review; multi-level constitutionalism; (limited) access to the supreme judicial organ(s); dissenting opinions etc.).

Section III: Comparative analysis of foreign relations law and the status of public international law in the domestic legal orders of the EU and the US: distribution of external competences between the federation and its entities; monist/dualist approach to the relationship between public international law and domestic law, "self-executing" effect of international agreements, role of the parliament in concluding international agreements).

Key words: 
Federalism – EU Law – US (constitutional) Law – Principles of integration – Fundamental freedoms – Citizenship – Judicial review – Federal balance
Faculty members: