JJUA55077U Advanced EU Constitutional Law - Essay class (JJUA55098U)

Volume 2015/2016

The course will give the students with an interest in the EU an opportunity to explore a selection of topics of European constitutional law, which are both fundamental (timeless) and timely. We will initiate a dialogue and rethink the past, discuss the current challenges and venture into the future of European constitutionalism. The students will be encouraged to question the established narrative of constitutionalization through law and critically examine the role of institutional actors in this process, in particular the Court of Justice of the EU.

Among other topics we will look closer at the reception and the application of European constitutional doctrines in national settings. In this regard we will evaluate the dialogue between the Court of Justice and selected national constitutional courts (for instance, the German Constitutional Court) to identify the problematic aspects of the doctrine of primacy of EU law. We will touch upon the frictions between the EU and the Member State governments and between the EU and the international legal orders such as the UN and the ECHR. Finally, we will reflect upon the recent Opinion of the Court on the accession of the EU to the ECHR.

These topics imply an approach that analyses the European constitutional order through the interaction between the legal structures and the political processes, principles and practice, and the relationship between the major European legal actors, such as the Commission, the Court of Justice and national courts.


Topics covered

• Europe’s constitutional past: Questioning the “constitutionalization through law” narrative

• Political process and judicial process of European constitutionalization (the role of institutional actors)

• Europe’s constitutional milestones in political and social context (critical reading of “grand cases” in EU law, such as Van Gend and Costa v ENEL, Internationale Handelsgesellchaft, ERT and Les Verts)

• Europe’s new constitutional structure: the division of competence and the principle of subsidiarity, delegated and implementing acts

• Europe’s constitutional conflict: Primacy, and its reception in selected Member States

• Accession of the EU to the ECHR

• The EU and the International legal order

• Constitutionalism beyond the state? (Constitutional pluralism)

• The impact of economic crisis on individual rights of EU citizens

Learning Outcome

1. Put the key concepts of European constitutional law, such as supremacy, protection of human rights and subsidiarity in their social, historic and political context.

2. Critically reflect on the interplay between law and politics in the making of the Constitution of Europe (the political process in terms of Treaty changes and the judicial constitution of Europe) and rethink critically the founding cases of the EU.

3. Evaluate the arguments of the Court of Justice of the European Union pertaining to the nature of the European legal order, especially to its autonomy and primacy with regard to the legal systems of the Member States and the international legal order.

4. Analyse the legal discussion of the nature of the EU and its legal order, and contrast it to its political reality, and argue whether the EU is an international organization, a sui generis entity or a “federation of states.”

5. Question and theorize the relationship between different legal orders (the EU legal order, international legal order, national legal systems).

6. Formulate your thoughts and arguments pertaining to the issues 1-5 clearly and systematically.

7. Give constructive peer feedback and respond to criticism.

The readings will comprise approximately 500 pages. Articles and book chapters (approximately 300 pages in total) will be uploaded on Absalon, in accordance with copy right rules of respective publishers.

Students will be encouraged to find the relevant case-law (approximately 200 pages in total).

The materials include classic papers on EU constitutional law as well as new publications by legal scholars and legal theorists, pol. scientists and sociologists of law. The readings are selected in the way that the students are familiar with classic texts and new research, as well as with different disciplinary perspectives on law. The students read "the originals" and not the excepts from textbooks. Hence the reading material is often more difficult and less extensive (less pages).

Examples include:

E Stein, Lawyers, Judges, and the Making of a Transnational Constitution, (1981) 75 A.J.I.L. 1

M Kumm, Who is the Final Arbiter of Constitutionality in Europe?, (1999) 36 Common Market Law Review 351

M Maduro, Europe and the Constitution: What If This Is As Good As It Gets?, in Marlene Wind and Joseph Weiler (eds) Constitutionalism Beyond the State (Cambridge University Press 2003) 74

A. Vauchez, The Transnational Politics of Jurisprudence. Van Gend en Loos and the Making of EU Polity, (2010) 16 European Law Journal 1

S Peers & M Costa, Accountability for Delegated and Implementing Acts after the Treaty of Lisbon, (2012) 18 European Law Journal 427

There are no formal requirements.
Teaching method and student activities (expectations)

In class, we expect active participation and dialogue. Students should come to class prepared, having read the materials and outlined the main arguments, problems and issues, which the reading materials raised.

Teaching and learning activities will include
• Short student presentations in each session of the case-law of the Court of Justice or of journal articles, which can serve as a starting point for the final assignment
• Group work, and peer-discussion
• “Mind-map” drawing in order to systematize the materials discussed in class
• Giving oral and written feedback to colleagues
• Summarizing the main points of the discussion and compare with peers or/and lecturer
• Outline of a research paper, in bullet points, as a preparation for the final written paper (individual consultation with the lecturer and in groups)
• Case study and inductive learning (case-based teaching)
Remarks re schedule, exam form and workload

The course will be conducted as an essay class, meaning that the seminar sessions will be
spread over 5 weeks in September (week 36, one hour introductory session, weeks 37-39, two sessions per week, three hours each), and then the students will have 5 weeks to produce a draft paper and present it in week 45 (two three hour sessions or one long session, depending on the size of the group and the number of presentations).

The students are free to select a topic, given that the topic is covered by the syllabus or closely connected to it. They will hand in their final paper in week 49 and present it in week 50 (in two sessions in week 50 four hours each or a one day long “academic conference”). In both sessions they will
receive oral feedback from the lecturer and the peers. All students will act as discussants on one to two other papers, depending on the number of participants.

The total hours spent in class is 34 like in other 10 ECTS Master level courses. However, due to a heavier workload, and the additional independent work on the final assignment, the course gives the students 15 ECTS points.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 241
  • Project work
  • 100
  • Seminar
  • 34
  • Total
  • 375
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written projekt exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

December 11, 2015 


February 2, 2016 

Criteria for exam assesment

The Danish 7-point grading scale will be used. The students will be assessed according to the extent that they achieve the course objectives.