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The self-referential European polity, its legal context and systemic differentiation: theoretical reflections on the emergence of the EU's political and legal autopoiesis

Priban, Jiri 2009. The self-referential European polity, its legal context and systemic differentiation: theoretical reflections on the emergence of the EU's political and legal autopoiesis. European Law Journal 15 (4) , pp. 442-461. 10.1111/j.1468-0386.2009.00472.x

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Abstract

This article starts by summarising major theoretical debates regarding European polity and governance. It highlights the role of statehood in those debates and suggests moving beyond the constraints of institutionalist and constructivist perspectives by adopting specific notions from the theory of autopoietic social systems. The following part describes the EU political system as self-referential, functionally differentiated from the system of European law, and internally differentiated between European institutions and Member State governments. Although the Union transgresses its nation-state segmentation, the notions of statehood and democratic legitimacy continue to inform legal and political semantics of the EU and specific responses to the Union's systemic tensions, such as the policy of differentiated integration legislated by the flexibility clauses. The democratic deficit of instrumental legitimation justified by outcomes, the most recent example of which is the Lisbon Treaty, subsequently reveals the level of EU functional differentiation and the impossibility of fostering the ultimate construction of a normatively integrated and culturally united European polity. It shows a much more profound social dynamics of differentiation at the level of emerging European society—dynamics which do not adopt the concept of the European polity as an encompassing metaphor of this society, but makes it part of self-referential and self-limiting semantics of the functionally differentiated European political system.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1351-5993
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:21
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/20075

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