Federalism and the European Union

Authored by: Simona Piattoni

Routledge Handbook of Regionalism and Federalism

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415566216
eBook ISBN: 9780203395974
Adobe ISBN: 9781136727627


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The European Union (EU) is a union of states, but whether it is or should ever be a federal union has been one of the most contentious questions since its inception. For some (Kelemen, 2004), the EU already displays the main features of a federation. For others (Moravcsik, 2001), it is and it will remain an international organization, although a particularly densely institutionalized one. For most, federalism is one of several theoretical frameworks that may help discuss the present and imagine the future state of the Union without pre-judging its final shape. Many variations on the root-term ‘federal’ have been coined to capture the sui generis and ever-changing nature of the Union, and other terms are as frequently used to try and come to grips with this novel institutional construct. What is certain is that in the political – as opposed to the academic – debate, the word federalism excites heated passions, either pro or against.

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