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Towards a Legal Theory of Supranationality - The Viability of the Network Concept

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Though heated, recent debate on the German Federal Court’s ‘Maastricht’ judgment may be argued to have overlooked one of the primary problems posed by European integration: the lack of new concepts to describe the emerging supranational order. The following argues that a discussion which on the one hand has overstressed the significance of nationalism, and which on the other continues to seek a ‘normative’ basis for a collective European order, has failed to pay due regard to the practical–functional elements of historical nation–state building. Further, such analyses have failed to recognise that traditional, hierarchical, centralised and unitary states have long been transformed ‘from within’ through a process of pluralisation and fragmentation. Accordingly, the ‘network–concept’ is tested here not only for its viability as a basis for a new conceptualisation of a supranationality which is characterised by heterarchical and decentralised relationships, but also for its relevance for the re–conceptualisation of the political and legal structures of the traditional nation–state.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Universitä Hamburg

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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