Edited by Gareth Davies and Matej Avbelj
Chapter 13: The metabolic constitution and the limits of EU legal pluralism
The ‘constitution’ of power depends on sociopolitical mechanisms to mobilize human and fiscal resources in a legitimate and compulsory fashion. This ‘metabolic’ function is the essential element of any genuinely ‘constituted’ public authority, not least, as this chapter elaborates, in the European Union. Even as the EU has come to enjoy extensive normative-regulatory power (hence giving rise to a highly pluralist legal system), the ultimate authority to mobilize resources in the EU has remained stubbornly and overwhelmingly national. This distribution of power – vertically ‘multilevel’ in a legal and regulatory (that is, administrative) sense but horizontally ‘polycentric’ in a robustly democratic and constitutional sense – has effectively defined the limits of EU legal pluralism over the course of integration history. It also helps us appreciate the EU’s deeper ‘administrative, not constitutional’ character, which has been especially clear in the various crises that have persistently confronted the integration process over the past decade.
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