promoted by Union. Against this background, it gauges the potential of national constitutional courts in countering the
process of intergovernmental and technocratic encroachment of national constitutional democracies marking the
most recent evolutionary stages of the European integration process.
The argument begins by considering the value of national constitutional courts as participants of national
constitutional democracies (section II). Constitutional courts, it is argued, are key to sustaining legal and political
orders pursuing the reconciliation of private and public autonomy. Within this context, they develop a particular type
of legality and style of adjudication allowing the correction of legislative decisions in the light of higher formal and
substantive principles. To fulfil this task constitutional courts benefit from their specific institutional qualities and a
privileged relationship with ordinary courts.
The value of constitutional courts, however, is relative for they partake also in shortcomingsof national constitu-
tional democracies such as parochialism and regulatory capture (section III). The supranational institutions introduced
in Europe after World War II cope with these deficiencies and establish a complementary relationship with national
constitutional democracies: while the latter provide the institutional framework to govern salient issues regarding
redistribution and protection of fundamental rights, supranational institutions promote allocative efficiency and
individual emancipation across borders. Complementarity emerges also as the main criterion inspiring judicial
organisation: following their specific institutional expertise, national constitutional courts and the European Court
of Justice assert their leadership over distinct jurisdictional areas reflecting the above‐mentioned division of labour.
To secure the effectiveness of supranational law, however, the Court of Justice develops relationships with ordinary
courts which challenge the affiliation of the latter with constitutional courts. The article illustrates the doctrines
leading to this outcome and maps out the jurisdictional areas remaining subject to national constitutional review. It
argues that, as long as the scope of supranational law remains limited, those doctrines do not have the effect of
marginalising constitutional courts. This explains why, on the whole, the latter have accepted their redefined condition
also as a matter of domestic constitutional law.
The position of national constitutional courts turns more controversial as the Union expands its remit (section IV).
The article recognises that this development is paralleledby a constitutional recalibration of the EU institutional frame-
work, but it rejects the view suggesting a transformation of the Union into a fully‐fledged pan‐European constitutional
democracy. The expansion of Union competences towards increasingly salient policy areas, it is contended, is better
explained as a response to the crisis of national social government. New EU competences are instrumental to the
promotion of the advanced liberalism agenda, a coherent policy strategy aimed at strengthening the competitiveness
of national economies by re‐orienting national welfare states. The implementation of this policy agenda, it is argued,
corrodes national constitutional democracies without offering any equivalent supranational substitute.In this context,
doctrines such as Simmenthal become problematic because constitutional courts are displaced and, with them, also the
possibility to oppose intergovernmental and technocratic encroachment may appear foreclosed.
However, the Union institutional framework is not blind to the potentially disintegrative effects of supranational
policy‐making and adjudication (section V). The article claims that the Simmenthal doctrine is no real impediment to
represent and defend national constitutional claims in supranational litigation. The preliminary reference procedure
allows constitutional courts to influence supranational litigation from the margins: while ordinary courts are in the
position of conveying domestic constitutional claims to the Court of Justice, constitutional courts can still take part
in litigation as a back‐up option were supranational judgments to be perceived as unsustainable according to national
constitutional standards. If properly employed, this opportunity creates sufficient incentives for the Court of Justice
to handle carefully national constitutional materials and internalise them within the existing EU policy strategies.
Finally, the role of constitutional courts is discussed from a normative standpoint by examining the range of
approaches inspiring their activity in supranational litigation (section VI). By focusing on judgments decided in the
backdrop of the economic and financial crisis, the article shows that constitutional courts are in the position of
reinforcing, resisting or correcting measures of structural change adopted under EU impulse. After having identified
in correction the approach more coherent with their constitutional mandate, the article concludes by highlighting a
disturbing paradox: in remaining faithful to their constitutional role, constitutional courts contribute to the