Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law
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Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law

Edited by Gareth Davies and Matej Avbelj

The Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law explores the diversity of phenomenon of overlapping legal systems within the European Union, the nature of their interactions, and how they deal with the difficult question of the legal hierarchy between them. The contributors reflect on the history, sociology and legal scholarship on constitutional and legal pluralism, and develop this further in the light of the challenges currently facing the EU.
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Chapter 10: The sociological concept of EU constitutional pluralism

Jiří Přibáň


The chapter examines recent conceptualisations of EU constitutionalism and the classic concepts of power, authority and legitimacy in the postnational EU pluralistic political and societal constellation. It particularly focuses on the power/authority and unity/diversity distinctions, which inform modern theories of democratic constitutionalism, and the polity/non-polity and state/societal constitution distinctions leading to the possibility of thinking of EU constitutionalism without a constitution, polity and state. It argues that constitutional pluralism of the EU needs to be comprehended not merely as a jurisprudential problem of the two or more legal systems operating within the EU and mutually recognising each other's normative claims, but as a sociological problem of the plurality of social systems, subsystems and normative regimes constituting the European society by their differentiated self-constitutions. Concepts of constitutional law, such as the basic constitutional norm, polity and constituent/constituted power, subsequently are to be treated as internal constructs of European supranational systems of positive law and politics. There is no ultimate political constitution and no basic norm to rule the totality of European society, but a plurality of differentiated self-constituted normative systems evolving at European level and regulating both state and nonstate power structures and operations.

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