A European Constitution in a Multinational Europe or a Multinational Constitution for Europe?

Date01 May 2006
Published date01 May 2006
330 © 2006 The Author
Journal compilation © Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2006
A European Constitution in a
Multinational Europe or a Multinational
Constitution for Europe?
Vito Breda*
Abstract: What is the role of the nation-state in the process of European constitutional
integration? How can we transcend our divisions without marginalising those who believe
in them? This article critically analyses the theoretical bases of the Treaty Establishing a
Constitution for Europe and tries to explain why its ratification is so problematic. Authors
such as Habermas have argued that a new European model of social cohesion is needed,
and Habermas suggests that the sense of ‘community’ in a democratic Europe should be
founded exclusively on the acceptance of a patriotic constitution. However, this view is
criticised by authors such as Weiler and MacCormick. In this article, I explain the limits
of these theoretical analyses. I will argue that a European constitutional project can be
more than formally legal only if two normative conditions are satisfied: it is the result of
public debate and the European Constitution includes the procedures for the recognition
of European national diversity. I suggest that a theory of constitutional multinationalism,
similar to the one proposed by Tully, might provide an attractive model for a European
social integration. The article is divided in two parts. In the first, I explain why Haber-
mas’ constitutional patriotism or MacCormick’s states based Europe cannot provide a
convincing theoretical model for a socially and constitutionally integrated Europe. In the
second part, I will give an outline of Tully’s idea of multinational democracy as a model
for a European constitutional integration.
IA Patriotic or a Civic Europe?
Thirteen years after Maastricht, the European Union proposes the adoption
of a constitution. Why do we need a constitution? The Treaty on European
European Law Journal, Vol.12, No. 3, May 2006, pp. 330–344.
© 2006 The Author
Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK
and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
*Cardiff Law School,Cardiff University.I am indebted to Emilios Christoduolidis,Neil MacCormick, James
Tully, Ian Ward, and Stephen Tierney for their very helpful comments. This article would not be the same
without Ji í P ibá and our endless discussions on Habermas and European constitutional identities. An
early draft of this article was presented at the First European Socio-Legal Conference in O ati with the finan-
cial help of the British Academy. During the conference,I received many useful comments from too many
individuals to remember them all, for those not mentioned below let me express my gratitude.I would like to
acknowledge the helpful critiques of Roger Cotterrell, Steward Field, and Wolf Heydebrand. Needless to
say, responsibility for any error in the present work rest with the author. Lastly, I should like to thank
Stefania Morandini and Rhian Minty for their help during the last stages of this article.

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