March event – William Phelan

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The Fundamental Rights in Europe Working Group proudly presents, for their March event, a political scientist’s view on Fundamental Rights in Europe:

William Phelan will present his paper on ‘The Limited Practical Relevance of National Constitutional Rights as a Constraint on the National Application of European Law in the Early Decades of European Integration’

On Monday 17th March,

at 5 p.m. Seminar Room 3, Badia

Guest Speaker: William Phelan, Lecturer in Political Science, Trinity College Dublin

Scholarship on the early development of the supremacy of European law has frequently been dominated by discussion of the possibility that a directly effective EC law obligation would not be applied in the national legal order because it violated a national constitutional law fundamental right, as discussed, for example, in the Frontini and SoLange decisions of the Italian and German Constitutional Courts. This paper argues that such a possibility should instead be seen as of limited practical relevance.

This claim is supported by early scholarship on the application of European law in the national legal orders and by the practice of constitutional review of laws giving execution to treaty obligations in Denmark, Ireland, Italy and Germany, including the German Constitutional Court’s 1955 decision on the Saar Statute. Two conclusions are drawn from this discussion. First, scholarship offering a general explanation of the development of the supremacy of European law should not focus on the national constitutional rights question to the exclusion of a thorough examination of European law’s lex posterior problem. Second, scholarship examining the development of European law supremacy in relation to national constitutional law fundamental rights in particular should be situated within the context of the flexible and politically sensitive approach to adjudication demonstrated by Europe’s national courts in their decisions on potential conflicts between constitutional rights and treaty obligations.

If you would like to have a copy of the paper, please e-mail [email protected].