The Gifts of Synthesis: Integration and Constitutionalization
Review of: Agustin Menéndez, Erik John Fossum, The Constitution’s Gift. A Constitutional Theory for a Democratic European Union. (Lanham, ML, Rowman & Littlefield 2011) 303 p., ISBN 978-0-74255311-8.
Even though it cannot yet be compared to its American counterpart for quantity and quality, European constitutional theory is rapidly flourishing and it has almost developed into a genre with its own jargon and categories. This important book can be hailed as one of the most elaborated fruits of the season of European constitutional self-reflection. Given the much contested nature of the European Union as a political entity, constitutionalists have had to struggle in order to capture it and to explain its constitutional value. By not succumbing to the intoxicating rhetoric of the ‘sui generis’ polity, the authors engage with European constitutional history and theory with a view of clarifying what is the nature of the European polity, how to explain certain constitutional riddles like the supremacy principle and how to put forward principles in order to assess the legitimacy of this constitutional order. Overall, it is an extremely useful operation both for constitutional and European lawyers. The presupposition underlying the approach advocated in this book is the idea that the traditional categories of modern constitutionalism still represent the main toolbox to tackle with European constitutional problems. In this way, the contribution made by this book has a double nature: it entails both a general effort at explaining the European constitution and it also sets normative standards to be used as a yardstick against which judging the legitimacy of the European constitutional polity.