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European Union Constitution-Making, Political Identity and Central European Reflections

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This article focuses on the European Union's constitution-making efforts and their specific reflections in the Central European accession states. It analyses both the temporal and spatial dimensions of constitution-making and addresses the problems of political identity related to ethnic divisions and civic demos. It starts by summarising the major arguments supporting the Union's constitution-making project and emphasises the Union's symbolic power as a polity built on the principles of civil society and parliamentary democracy. The EU's official rejection of ethnically based political identity played an important symbolic role in post-Communist constitutional and legal transformations in Central Europe in the 1990s. In the following part, the text analyses the temporal dimension of the EU's identity-building and constitution-making and emphasises its profoundly future-oriented structure. The concept of identity as the ‘future in process’ is the only option of how to deal with the absence of the European demos. Furthermore, it initiates the politically much-needed constitution-making process. The following spatial analysis of this process emphasises positive aspects of the horizontal model of constitution-making, its elements in the Convention's deliberation and their positive effect on the Central European accession states. The article concludes by understanding the emerging European identity as a multi-level identity of civil political virtues surrounded by old loyalties and traditions, which supports the conversational model of liberal democratic politics, reflects the continent's heterogeneity and leads to the beneficial combination of universal principles and political realism.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2005

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