An event organised by the Institute for the Study of European Law (ISEL), City Law School
Speakers: Professor Peter L. Lindseth, University of Connecticut School of Law and Professor Päivi Leino-Sandberg, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Discussant: Professor Tamara Hervey, City Law School, City, University of London
Chair: Professor Francesca Strumia, City Law School, City, University of London
Under the NextGenerationEU (NGEU) program, the European Union (EU) has begun a transition of potentially profound constitutional significance, one that may portend the emergence of a genuinely new regime of European integration.
This new regime has several components. It builds, first, on the effort to establish a quasi-autonomous EU borrowing and spending power of an unprecedented scale and scope.
It is backed, second, by new revenue from the member states to help service the dramatically increased levels of EU debt. And it further seeks, third, to align the new revenue, borrowing, and spending with a range of EU policy initiatives, both immediate and longer term.
By mobilizing and deploying resources at a macroeconomically and geopolitically salient scale, this transition entails important steps toward the establishment of a genuinely autonomous constitution for the EU, moving beyond the “as if” constitutionalism that has characterized the integration project to date.
But therein also lies a problem. Even as the NGEU model moves beyond “as if” constitutionalism in socio-political fact, it nonetheless relies on problematic features of the old mindset in law.
This residual “as if” constitutionalism is, in our view, a threat to the legitimacy, effectiveness, and durability of the transition that the EU is otherwise rightly attempting to pursue.
This Article undertakes a detailed analysis of the historical roots and actual operation of the NGEU model in order to outline the legal dimensions of a potential new political settlement for integration, one that attempts to avoid the pitfalls of the “as if”-constitutional approach.
This settlement seeks to reconcile the historic nature of European integration—polycentric and demoi-cratic—with the need to develop revenue, borrowing, and spending capacities at the supranational level to enhance the added value and resilience of the integration project as it proceeds into an uncertain future.